Covid-19: Victorian authorities brace for more cases as five-day lockdown begins

Brenda Watkins
February 16, 2021

Australia's second most populous state Victoria entered a five-day lockdown on Saturday (Feb 13) as authorities raced to prevent a third wave of Covid-19 cases sparked by the highly infectious United Kingdom variant.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews spoke with Jacinda Ardern, telling her that Victorian officials are following up with passengers to see where they are.

The state reverted to stage 4 restrictions on Friday midnight, with the 5-day lockdown aimed to act as a "circuit breaker" curbing the spread of the highly contagious United Kingdom variant of the virus responsible for the Holiday Inn outbreak.

A COVID-19 outbreak connected to the Holiday Inn at Melbourne Airport has grown to 13 cases, forcing Andrews to put the city back into a five-day lockdown from midnight on Friday.

"As other states have demonstrated, you can get on top of this pretty quickly, and I have reason for confidence that they can do the same thing by following that same process", he said.

The Premier also suggested recent hotel quarantine infection control breaches around Australia had highlighted the difficulties of containing the United Kingdom strain and changes may be needed.

Among the "essential" work, play at the Australian Open, the year's first Grand Slam tennis event which runs to February 21, continued, but fans were banned through Wednesday.

"Play will continue. The players will compete in a bubble form", Tiley said. "They understand. They have been through a rigorous programme already", he added.

The problems at the Australian Open, the biggest global sports event so far this year, underline the difficulties of holding the much more complex Tokyo Olympics, which are due to start in July after a year's delay.

Quake rocks Japan off coast of Fukushima Prefecture
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga headed into his office immediately after reports of the quake, and a crisis centre was set up there. Kato said that some trains in northeastern Japan had stopped running, and that other damage was still being checked.

American star Serena Williams only learned of the new measures when she came off court after her 7-6 (7/5), 6-2 third-round win over Russia's Anastasia Potopova.

"It's not ideal", the 23-times Grand Slam champion said.

The two cases, including a 3-year-old child, were the first two who were not household contacts of a cluster of infected workers at a quarantine hotel at Melbourne airport which had triggered the five-day lockdown, health authorities said.

"I think these last couple of days really do confirm for us that as hard as the call on Friday was, the advice that underpinned it was exactly the right call", he said.

"Hopefully we'll be all right".

"It's the busiest weekend of the year for us". Wimbledon was cancelled for the first time since World War II. I'm sad, of course, that the crowd will not be there for the next few days.

The latest announcement comes just as the tournament was showing signs of life, following a tepid start with attendances well below even their reduced-capacity maximum.

The players will enter a biosecure "bubble" from Saturday morning similar to ones that have operated at tournaments around the world for much of the last 12 months.

Spectators may notably face a scramble to be home before the midnight lockdown takes effect, with play frequently continuing into the early hours.

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