Restrictions in Melbourne will become effective from Wednesday night and will be in place for six weeks. Victoria announced a record 127 new cases Monday as the virus spread through Melbourne, including a cluster in several densely populated apartment blocks.
Women hold signs outside housing commission apartments under lockdown in Melbourne, Australia, (Photo: AP)
Australia’s second most populous state of Victoria will reimpose stay-at-home restrictions in metropolitan Melbourne and one regional area of the state, Premier Daniel Andrews said, after a record daily rise in coronavirus infections.
“These are unsustainably high numbers of new cases,” Andrews said on Tuesday. Daniel Andrews described the decision to close off the state as “the smart call, the right call at this time, given the significant challenges we face in containing this virus”.
The restrictions will become effective from Wednesday night and will be in place for six weeks.
Victoria reported 191 new Covid-19 cases overnight, the biggest since the epidemic began. The state reported its previous high of 127 new cases on Monday.
For the first time since the epidemic began, the border between Australia’s two most populous states — Victoria and New South Wales — will be closed overnight Tuesday.
Police said they will use “drones and other aerial surveillance” to patrol the vast border, with large fines and up to six months in jail for people who breach the order.
After weeks of easing virus restrictions, Melbourne has seen a huge spike in community transmission, leading health officials to effectively shut off some neighbourhoods to the rest of the city until the end of July.
Sixteen of the new cases were detected in nine high-rise public housing towers, where 3,000 residents were locked in their homes on Saturday in Australia’s strictest coronavirus response to date.
So far, a total of 53 cases have been recorded in the buildings, which are home to a large number of vulnerable migrants.
There are concerns the virus could spread rapidly, with one health official likening the crowded conditions inside to “vertical cruise ships” — a reference to high transmission rates seen on ocean liners.
Australia has recorded more than 8,500 cases of coronavirus and 106 fatalities from Covid-19, including two deaths in Victoria over the past 24 hours.
The bulk of new daily cases are now being detected in Melbourne, while most other regions are enjoying relaxed restrictions after largely curbing the virus spread.