Recently considered by Hawaii to be included in the first tourism bubble, coronavirus is back in Melbourne.
Five million people have been ordered to stay at home in Australia’s second-biggest city of Melbourne, reintroducing a partial lockdown as the number of Covid-19 cases surged.
State Premier Daniel Andrews said the lockdown would begin at midnight and last at least six weeks as he warned residents “we can’t pretend” the coronavirus crisis is over.
Australia will also effectively seal off the wider state of Victoria from the rest of the country, authorities, announcing unprecedented measures to tackle a worrying surge in coronavirus cases.
For the first time since the epidemic began, the border between Australia’s two most populous states — Victoria and New South Wales — will be closed overnight, officials from both states said.
Home to more than 6.6 million people, Victoria announced a record 127 new cases Monday as the virus spread through Melbourne — including a cluster in several densely populated apartment blocks.
Plans to reopen Victoria’s border with South Australia have already been put on ice.
After weeks of easing virus restrictions, Melbourne has seen a huge spike in community transmission, leading health officials to effectively shut off some neighborhoods to the rest of the city until the end of July.
Sixteen of the new cases were detected in nine high-rise public housing towers, where 3,000 residents were locked in their homes on Saturday in Australia’s strictest coronavirus response to date.
So far, a total of 53 cases have been recorded in the buildings, which are home to a large number of vulnerable migrants.
There are concerns the virus could spread rapidly, with one health official likening the crowded conditions inside to “vertical cruise ships” — a reference to high transmission rates seen on ocean liners.
Community leaders have raised concerns about the targeted nature of the “hard lockdown”, which saw hundreds of police officers deployed with almost no warning, leaving some residents with little time to stock up on essentials.