Australia's Victoria state says next 24 hours critical as COVID cluster grows

Henrietta Brewer
May 27, 2021

"It can help contact tracers quickly find potential close and casual contacts if there is a positive Covid-19 case here in New Zealand", Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said today in a statement.

It is the fourth time Australia's second-biggest city has been plunged into lockdown since the pandemic began, including almost four months of harsh restrictions previous year.

Acting Premier James Merlino will face media later on Thursday and is expected to announce a snap lockdown for Greater Melbourne and potentially for the entire state, the ABC reported.

"In the last day, we've seen more evidence we're dealing with a highly infectious strain of the virus, a variant of concern, which is running faster than we have ever recorded", Merlino said.

"This is subject to how we go over the next 24 hours". "Given the circumstances, more than 10,000 primary and secondary contacts, more than 150 exposure sites right across the state of Victoria, Bendigo, on our border, right across metropolitan Melbourne, we need to have this circuit-breaker lockdown".

"If we make the wrong choice now, if we wait too long, this thing will get away from us", he told reporters on Thursday.

People under stay-at-home orders in the ACT will only be able to leave their homes to conduct essential activities such as buying groceries, medical supplies or needs; to receive a vaccination; to exercise for one hour a day; or for essential animal welfare purposes, such as feeding livestock kept elsewhere. No visitors are allowed at homes other than an intimate partner, and public gatherings are also off the cards.

Mask wearing will be mandatory.

Childcare centres will remain open and schools will only be open for children of essential workers and vulnerable students. Places of worship will be closed and only broadcast services will be available.

Other Australian states moved today moved to limit movement, with South Australia blocking all arrivals from Victoria.

The new outbreak marks the biggest increase in community transmission of the virus since the state came out of a second wave in October 2020.

Richmond's contingent already planned to be tested for COVID-19 as a precautionary measure to assist the Crows in returning to South Australia after the match. Anyone arriving in Australia from overseas must also complete mandatory, 14-day quarantine.

With the COVID-19 vaccine rollout ramping up in the wake of Melbourne's outbreak, McLachlan refused to force all AFL players to be vaccinated.

"They're doing extraordinary work", Mr Merlino said.

"If more people were vaccinated, we might be facing a very different set of circumstances than we are today".

Amid growing anxiety, the federal government said it would send 40,000 doses of AstraZeneca's vaccine to Victoria in a scramble to immunise those in aged care facilities.

Other reports by iNewsToday