The Victorian government has announced a new seven-day lockdown today in a bid to reduce the state’s growing coronavirus outbreak.
The “circuit-breaker” lockdown will be in place from midnight Thursday until midnight on June 3. The lockdown marks the fourth lockdown the Victoria Government has implemented since the pandemic began.
The state’s recent outbreak has now reached 27 cases, with 12 new cases recorded overnight.
Reported yesterday: 12 new local cases and no new cases acquired overseas.
– 12,677 vaccine doses were administered
– 40,411 test results were received
— VicGovDH (@VicGovDH) May 26, 2021
This morning, Acting Premier James Merlino told reporters contact tracers had identified more than 10,000 primary and secondary contacts linked to the outbreak.
Merlino said there would be only five reasons people would be allowed to leave their homes:
- Shopping for necessary goods and services
- Authorised work or permitted education
- Exercise (2hr limit) with one other person
- Care giving, compassionate, and medical reasons,
- To get vaccinated
Masks must be carried at all times and must be worn indoors and outdoors except at home.
Schools will close for the duration of the lockdown and move to remote learning, but childcare and kindergartens will be open.
Cafes and restaurants can offer take-away only, essential retail will be open, and other retail will close. Public and private gatherings will not be allowed.
A full list of restrictions can be found on Victoria government website.
Highly infectious strain of virus
Merlino said the virus was spreading at an alarming rate, which prompted the lockdown.
“In the last day, we’ve seen more evidence that we’re dealing with a highly infectious strain of the virus, a variant of concern which is running faster than we have ever recorded,” he told reporters.
The highly infectious Indian variant of COVID-19 was detected among the new cases in the Victorian outbreak.
“The time between catching the virus and passing it on is tighter than ever,” he said.
Merlino said the onset of symptoms in the first and secondary case was averaging just over day.
“So unless something drastic happens, this will be becoming increasingly uncontrollable,” he said.
Victoria’s Chief Health Officer, Brett Sutton, said it was “very reassuring that all of the newly-diagnosed cases are linked.
Victoria’s vaccination scheme expands
Victoria’s vaccination program will expand to include anyone aged between 40 and 49 from Friday morning.
Those aged between 40 and 49 will be offered the Pfizer vaccine, while those over 50 will still be offered the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Victorian health authorities have administrated 12,677 vaccine doses in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of jabs to 398,009.
Professor Sutton said Victoria could vaccinate up to 30,000 people a day, with the potential to reach 100,000 people a day when supply of the vaccine to local GPs is increased.
The Acting Premier took a moment to have a jab at the federal government, saying the lockdown may have been avoided if the Commonwealth’s vaccine rollout was better.
“If we had the Commonwealth’s vaccine program effectively rolled out, we may well not be here today,” Merlino said.
Exposure sites continue to grow
There has now been a total of 150 exposure sites connected with the Whittlesea cluster.
Two AFL matches over the weekend at Melbourne Cricket Ground and Docklands Stadium have both been listed as exposure sites.
The number of COVID-19 tests performed is being ramped up across the state as the growing exposure sites affect tens of thousands of people.
There were 40,411 test results received the past 24 hours.
The Victorian lockdown will mark the first lockdown to extend beyond a weekend since the federal government ended the JobKeeper wage subsidy at the end of March.
This lockdown proves to be another setback for those in sectors like hospitality, retail, and aviation, which are still struggling to recover from the pandemic.