Sydney, Australia, Dec 31 (efe-epa).- The Australian authorities tightened social distancing measures on Thursday ahead of the New Year holidays after eight local infections in Melbourne.
The city, which is the capital of Victoria state, had been without local infections for 61 days after being the epicenter of the second wave of Covid-19 in Australia.
The government of Victoria, Australia’s second-most populous state, reported three new cases of local infections on Thursday morning and another two later in the day, in addition to three others announced the previous evening.
Victoria’s Acting Premier Jacinta Allan told reporters in Melbourne that from midnight on Jan.1, the state will close its borders with the neighboring New South Wales.
Victorians will have until that time to return to the state. They will then be tested for the virus and have to quarantine for 14 days.
The border between the two states, the country’s most populous and major economic players, were closed for the first time in 100 years during the second wave of Covid-19 in the country between July and November.
“This is not an easy choice – and certainly not one we wanted to make on a day that’s supposed to be about celebrating,” Allen said in her second press briefing of the day.
Earlier in the day, Allan announced that the government of Victoria was re-imposing the mandatory use of face masks in closed spaces within its jurisdiction and limiting gatherings inside homes to a maximum of 15 people.
The new local infections in Melbourne, where some 5 million inhabitants were placed under lockdown between July and October due to an outbreak caused by breaches in quarantine centers for international travelers, are presumed to be linked to the upsurge of Sydney, the current cause of concern for the country.
Health authorities reported ten new cases on Thursday in Sydney, the most populated city in Australia.
The outbreak in Sydney, the capital of New South Wales, has prompted state authorities to impose a lockdown on some 250,000 people living in the Northern Beaches region since Dec.19.
Other jurisdictions have restricted travel to and from that area.
The New South Wales authorities have also adopted social distancing measures throughout the metropolis due to the virus spread.
These include a limit of five people at New Year’s Eve household gatherings and a ban on large assemblies for the traditional fireworks display over Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Australia has stamped out Covid-19 from much of its territory. The country has recorded almost 28,400 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, including 909 deaths.
Most of these infections occurred during the outbreak in Melbourne between June and October.
The country of 25 million inhabitants has just over 200 active Covid-19 cases, mainly among people who have returned from overseas and from infections contracted in Sydney. EFE-EPA