The border between the two most populous states in Australia, Victoria and New South Wales (NSW), should close after a spike in the cases of Covid-19 in Melbourne.
The epidemic in the capital of Victoria has seen hundreds of cases in the past two weeks – more than 95% of new Australian infections.
So far, the two states have kept their borders open even when others have closed them.
The closure is slated to begin on Wednesday, said Victoria’s Prime Minister Daniel Andrews.
He said he was in talks with Prime Minister Scott Morrison and NSW Prime Minister Gladys Berejiklian, both of whom had previously said the closure of the borders was not necessary.
“We all agreed that the best thing to do was to close the border,” Andrews said on Monday.
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“This is one of these precautionary measures, it is one of those things which I think will help us to contain the spread of the virus more widely. “
Daily increase in the number of cases in Victoria
Andrews said those who had “an inevitable journey” to New South Wales could apply for permits, including for people who had to cross state borders to work.
He recognized that closing the border would most likely have a significant economic and social impact.
But it was necessary given “the significant challenges we face in containing this virus,” said Andrews.
Victoria reported 127 new cases on Monday – its largest daily increase since the start of the pandemic.
Authorities over the weekend decreed “strict foreclosure” on nine apartment buildings – confining 3,000 people to their homes – after the discovery of a cluster of cases.
Residents of at least 36 hotspot suburbs were placed in a separate lockout last week. Unlike those in towers, they can leave the house for work, exercise, care and groceries.
The epidemic has so far threatened Australia’s relative success in suppressing the virus. Since January, Australia has recorded 105 deaths and around 8,500 cases.