The Australian state of Victoria will enter a seven-day lockdown on Thursday in order to contain an outbreak of the coronavirus.
Victoria acting Premier James Merlino announced the “circuit breaker” will end on June 3, with the possibility to end it sooner if the cluster is contained. Merlino said public health experts’ primary concern is “just how fast the B1.617.1 variant is moving.”
For the next week, residents are only permitted to leave their homes for five reasons: to obtain food and supplies, attend authorized work, to receive and give care, to exercise for up to two hours with one other person and to get vaccinated.
“Overseas, they haven’t been able to track how quickly this version of the virus can move. Here in Victoria, though, we’re seeing not only how quick it is – but how contagious it is, too,” Merlino said.
Contact tracers in Victoria are identifying and contacting the first, second and third layer of contacts for those who have been infected, which is totaling more than 10,000 people. While the tracers are moving faster than ever, within 24 hours, Merlino stressed that the variant is “still moving faster.”
Within just 24 hours, the number of COVID-19 cases has doubled to 26.
“The time between catching the virus and passing it on is tighter than ever. The ‘serial interval’ – how long it takes between the onset of symptoms in the first and secondary case – is in many cases just over a day,” Merlino added.
Shopping and exercising is only permitted within 3 miles from home, and face masks are required to be worn indoors and outdoors – anywhere outside a person’s home. Public and private gatherings are not permitted.
Schools, gyms, hair salons and community facilities will all close.
Merlino urged people to get vaccinated, announcing that all Victorians over the age of 40 years old are now eligible for the vaccine.
“It’s clear – more than ever – this virus isn’t going away,” the premier said. “And vaccines are the only way we’ll ever get back to normal. Without full vaccination, this virus will just keep mutating – and just keep making its way back in. My message to those Victorians: if you’re eligible, get vaccinated. Make your plan today.”