Melbourne, Australia’s second-largest city, reimposed Covid-19 restrictions on Tuesday after health officials in the region identified five new locally acquired cases in the city, raising fears of a larger-scale outbreak amid ‘slow deployment of the vaccine.
Following the outbreak, New Zealand has temporarily excluded Victoria from its non-quarantine travel bubble with Australia. The hiatus will take effect later Tuesday and will remain in place for at least 72 hours, after which it will be reviewed. Anyone in New Zealand who has visited any of the sites reported in Melbourne has been urged to get tested immediately and self-isolate.
20.549. This is the total number of coronavirus cases recorded in the state of Victoria, representing more than two-thirds of all cases recorded in Australia. More than 90% of the 910 deaths from Covid-19 in Australia have also taken place in Victoria.
Australia has been largely successful in curbing the spread of Covid-19 within its borders using a mix of contact tracing, movement restrictions and strict quarantine measures for inbound travelers. The country has only reported around 1,600 cases since the start of this year, and a large majority of them were overseas travelers whose infections were detected while in quarantine. However, experts warn Australia’s success could turn sour due to its slow vaccine rollout. The Australian government reports that it has administered 3.69 million doses so far, which Bloomberg estimates cover just 7% of the country’s population. Only about 370,000 injections have been given in Victoria, which has a total population of about 6.6 million people. According to the Australian government’s plan, local primary care physicians were to distribute the majority of injections to the general public. However, ABC News reported that the delivery of vaccines to local doctors was unpredictable.
James Merlino, Acting Prime Minister of Victoria, said: “There are currently millions of Victorians who are eligible for vaccination. They shouldn’t wait until tomorrow, they shouldn’t wait until next week. They should move on now and get vaccinated… the path through this pandemic is the successful roll-out of the Commonwealth’s vaccination program.
Melbourne COVID-19 restrictions return as cluster expands in northern suburbs (ABC News)
Masks and social restrictions return to Melbourne, Australia after new outbreak (Reuters)
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