Australia’s Victoria, in lockdown, reports 5 more COVID-19 cases

Essential workers walk past a ‘Heroes Wear Masks’ sign on the first day of a seven-day lockdown as the state of Victoria looks to curb the spread of a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Melbourne, Australia, May 28, 2021. REUTERS/Sandra Sanders

Australia’s second most populous state of Victoria, the epicentre of the country’s latest coronavirus hotspot, reported five new cases of community transmission on Monday, taking the current cluster to 45.

Victoria went into a strict seven-day lockdown on Friday after new COVID-19 infections in the state capital Melbourne ended its three-month run of zero community cases.

The swelling numbers, particularly a ‘mystery case’ in a worker at an aged care home in the city, have raised questions over whether the lockdown will be extended beyond the seven days announced initially. read more

A second worker and one resident at the facility have now tested positive, the home operator Arcare said in a statement.

The prospect of a larger outbreak in aged care homes is highly concerning given hundreds of elderly Victorians in such facilities died of COVID-19 last year.

The latest outbreak was caused by a returning resident, who left hotel quarantine in neighbouring South Australia state after testing negative, but later tested positive in Melbourne.

Victorian officials will hold a press conference at 0215 GMT (12.15 PM local time)

Medical officials have said the latest COVID-19 variant, first detected in India, was likely to be more virulent than the original strains, taking just one day to infect another person compared with earlier strains which can take about five or six.

Victoria endured one of the world’s strictest and longest lockdowns last year to suppress a second wave of COVID-19 that killed more than 800 people in the state, accounting for 90% of Australia’s total deaths since the pandemic began.

Swift contact tracing, snap lockdowns and strict social distancing rules have helped Australia keep its COVID-19 numbers relatively low, with 22,275 local cases and 910 deaths. The country has ranked among the top 10 in a COVID-19 performance index for its successful handling of the pandemic. read more

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