Australia’s Victoria to take longer than current lockdown period to slow COVID-19 spread

SYDNEY: Australia’s second most populous state of Victoria will take longer than the current six-week lockdown period to stem the spread of the coronavirus, authorities said on Monday (Jul 27), as the country battles to contain a second wave of the virus.

Australia, one of the least-hit countries by the pandemic with more than 14,400 cases and 155 deaths, imposed strict lockdown measures in the early stages of the outbreak to contain the spread of the virus, gradually easing them in May.

But a resurgence of cases in Victoria over the past few weeks forced the southeastern state to reimpose a six-week lockdown in its capital Melbourne early this month. The city’s five million residents were also ordered to wear face masks or risk a A$200 (US$142) fine.

READ: Australia extends stimulus spending as ‘COVID-19 recession’ looms

Victoria on Sunday suffered its deadliest day since the pandemic began after reporting 10 deaths, mostly at aged-care facilities, as well as 459 new cases.

On Monday, the state logged a record daily increase of 532 COVID-19 cases and six deaths.

Five of those six deaths are connected to outbreaks in aged care,, said state Premier Daniel Andrews in a media briefing in Melbourne.

The state recorded its previous one-day high of 484 cases last week.

READ: Melbourne residents ordered to wear masks as Australia coronavirus cases rise

As the state moves into its third week of lockdown, deputy chief medical officer Nick Coatsworth said it might take Victoria longer than six weeks to flatten the coronavirus curve as the virus was now “embedded” within the community.

“Whilst we know the curve will flatten and will bend down the other side, it is going to take longer,” Coatsworth told Australian Broadcasting Corp television.

Neighbouring New South Wales state is also grappling with several virus clusters that have sprung up at a hotel, a Thai restaurant and a club. However most new cases have been linked to known sources.

Authorities have urged people to avoid non-essential travel and social gatherings, and to wear masks indoors when they are unable to follow social distancing rules.

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