Sydney, 27 May 2021 (dpa/MIA) – The Australian state of Victoria will go into a seven-day lockdown starting at the end of Thursday to contain a growing cluster of coronavirus cases.
There are 34 active cases of coronavirus across the state, with 12 new locally acquired cases detected in the last 24 hours.
Acting state premier James Merlino said more than 10,000 primary and secondary contacts had been identified in connection with the outbreak.
Health experts are especially concerned about how quickly the Indian variant is spreading, Merlino said.
“We also know our nation’s vaccine rollout has been slower than we’d hoped. And if more people were vaccinated, we might be facing a different set of circumstances. Sadly, we’re not,” Merlino said in a statement.
Under the measures, non-essential shops will close and the public will only be allowed to leave home for essential reasons, including for vaccination appointments.
Australia has been very successful so far in fighting the pandemic with extremely strict measures, including by keeping its international border closed with few exceptions since March 2020. The country has recorded just over 30,000 cases and 910 deaths since the pandemic began.
But there is increasing criticism of the slow pace of vaccination and a growing backlash to the closed border, with the government indicating this month it does not expect international travel to resume until 2022.
As of Tuesday, 3.8 million vaccine doses had been administered nationwide.
This is the fourth coronavirus lockdown for Victoria, Australia‘s second-most populous state. Last year the capital city Melbourne was under “stay at home” orders for 112 days.