Home gatherings will be limited to five guests, only 30 people will be allowed at public meetings, and masks will be mandatory in indoor environments from 6 p.m. local time (8 a.m. GMT) Tuesday through June 4.
“This is a responsible step that we must take to bring this epidemic under control,” James Merlino, acting Prime Minister of Victoria, told reporters in Melbourne.
The latest cases come after nearly three months when the state has not reported any cases.
Victoria was the hardest-hit state in a second wave of coronavirus last year, accounting for around 70% of total cases and 90% of deaths in Australia with seriously affected elderly care homes. The state only brought the outbreak under control after one of the longest and most difficult lockdowns in the world.
A new locally acquired case was reported in Melbourne, Merlino said on Tuesday, a day after four infections were reported in the city.
All five cases involve a single extended family in different households and have been traced via the genome of the virus to a variant found in a foreign traveler who returned to Melbourne earlier this month after completing quarantine in the city of Adelaide.
Authorities, however, are still working on how family members contracted the Overseas Traveler’s Virus.
The last case concerns a man in his sixties.
“Importantly, he reports being symptomatic before Case 1 develops symptoms, which means it could be a possible source case,” Merlino said, quoted by the Australian Broadcasting Corp (ABC). Chief health worker Brett Sutton said the man could be the “missing link”.
Thousands of people have been ordered to self-isolate and undergo COVID-19 testing with health alerts issued for multiple sites, from public transport to restaurants and shopping malls.
One of the cases had a high viral load as it traveled to certain locations, prompting authorities to warn Melbourne’s five million residents to prepare for more positive cases in the coming days.
The hours of operation of COVID-19 test sites have been extended to cope with the expected increase in demand.
Rapid tracking systems, movement restrictions and social distancing have helped Australia contain outbreaks of COVID-19, recording just over 30,000 cases and 910 deaths since the start of the pandemic.