A “state of disaster” has been declared for the Australian state of Victoria after nearly 700 new cases of the coronavirus were recorded overnight, according to reports.
The declaration is just one of many steps taken as Australia’s second most populous state grows concerned over the pandemic situation it faces. All of Melbourne has entered the Stage 4 lockdown, which goes into effect from 6 p.m. Sunday.
“If you have that many cases – and they’re not just in the Melbourne metropolis, they’re also in the Victoria area – if you have that many cases of community transmission you have to assume you have some more and on. this base, you can no longer be sure that you have a precise understanding of the amount of virus it contains, ”Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said at a press briefing.
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“We have to be careful and go further and stronger.”
The lockdown includes a nighttime curfew from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m., and only allows one resident of each household to shop within three miles of their home, according to the Guardian.
Residents are also limited to one hour of daily exercise with no more than two people together.
Victoria recorded more than 700 cases on Thursday last week, raising alarm bells within the government. The numbers fell towards the end of the week, with just 397 recorded on Saturday, but the increase to nearly 700 overnight prompted the state government to act.
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The new rules will remain in place until at least September 13, and Andrews has promised more changes will come as well, the BBC reported.
“Today it’s a series of changes related to the way we live our lives,” Andrews added. “Tomorrow I will make more announcements about our way of working.”
Victoria has found itself at the center of the Australian pandemic, with its 11,557 cases accounting for the bulk of the 17,000 total infections in Australia. The state has also recorded 123 deaths, again accounting for more than half of the roughly 200 deaths across the country.
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The peak in Melbourne proved to be a major setback in the country’s otherwise positive progress in tackling the spread of the virus.