Health

Melbourne begins new lockdown amid COVID-19 outbreak

(Update 1 adds pars 5 and 4 from bottom)

Sydney, Australia, Jul 9 (efe-epa).- The streets of Melbourne, Australia’s second-most populous city with 5 million residents, were deserted on Thursday as a new six-week lockdown began amid a spike in COVID-19 cases.

More than 1,000 cases have been recorded since the outbreak at the end of June, which is attributed to possible breaches of infection control protocols in hotels where travelers returning to the city undergo a 14-day quarantine.

This figure is well above the cases that are being detected in the rest of the country.

As a result, the rest of Australia, which had succeeded in containing the coronavirus and had taken major steps in its economic recovery plan, is on high alert and has taken steps to prevent and check any local spread of the virus following its resurgence in Melbourne, the capital of Victoria state.

“I want to thank all Melburnians, all Victorians, for your patience. And those who live in the border towns along the New South Wales-Victoria border, I want to thank you for your patience in managing what has, I’m sure, been a very disruptive last few days,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters in Canberra.

Central Melbourne was almost deserted on the first day of the lockdown, in contrast to the previous evening which saw a lot of people in bars and restaurants enjoying their last moment of freedom for the next few weeks, as well as crowded supermarkets, according to photos posted on social media.

Victoria police were tightly controlling access points into the city as well as in rural Mitchell Shire, two areas that must comply with the mandatory lockdown for the next six weeks, according to images broadcast on local television.

Jemma Jives, who lives in north Melbourne, told EFE that the situation “is a little difficult and the general feeling among people is that we are tired and concerned about vulnerable people.”

The translator said she felt lucky to live in a house with a patio and to be able to continue working remotely.

But Jives rued that this new lockdown had further delayed plans to see family on the island of Tasmania, although she admitted that the measure “is much more serious” and considers it important to follow “what the government says.”

Chilean Alejandro Vargas told EFE he is considered an essential worker in the construction sector and that traffic in the morning was flowing normally, clarifying that he lives far from the outbreak areas, located mainly in the west of the city.

With 932 active cases in Victoria, the 58-year-old is not visiting his octogenarian parents or siblings so as not to put them in danger, and will miss his granddaughter’s birthday in order to “contribute to the community.”

The outbreak in Melbourne, which led to the closure of the shared border between Victoria and New South Wales, two states which between them account for more than 50 percent of the Australian population and economy, is being closely followed by the rest of the jurisdictions.

We are “on high alert,” said NSW Premier Gladys Berijiklian on the possibility of local infections at the common border or through people from Melbourne who traveled to Sydney.

Australia has recorded almost 9,000 cases, including 106 deaths, of which more than 3,400 and 2,900 have been recorded in New South Wales and Victoria respectively. EFE-EPA

wat/pd/tw

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