Millions in Melbourne ordered into snap lockdown

Katie Ramirez
May 27, 2021

Victoria's acting Premier James Merlino announced the snap week-long lockdown on Thursday after the state recorded 11 new locally acquired cases.

The outbreak has been traced back to a man in his 30s who is thought to have been infected with the highly-infectious variant inside a quarantine hotel in neighbouring South Australia just hours before being allowed to go home, where he fell ill.

As of midnight last night anybody entering the Territory from Greater Melbourne or Bendigo will have to undergo 14 days of supervised quarantine at their own expense of $2500.

Unless there is a drastic improvement in the Melbourne situation, the affected teams will need to either be in NT quarantine, or be in another jurisdiction that has free access to the NT, by June 3.

Merlino said the Indian variant of the virus was moving faster than its contact tracers.

"We've seen overseas what happens if this thing gets away", he said.

While many would see waiting in line for two hours as doing their part for the nation, the man was clearly so frustrated he couldn't get the vaccine immediately, he was happy to express his opinion on Channel 10's national news.

Schools across the state will close for the duration of the lockdown, as will non-essential retail stores, dining-in service at restaurants and cafes, pools, gyms, hairdressers, beauty services and cultural and entertainment venues such as cinemas, tourism and art galleries.

The additions bring the number of people in Victoria's latest cluster to 26.

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A man in his 60s, who was among the five cases announced on Tuesday, is still believed to be the earliest known infection in the new outbreak.

The seven-day lockdown for Melbourne and the rest of Victoria state comes after a new cluster in the city rose to 26 infections, including a person who was in intensive care.

'If more people were vaccinated, we might be facing a very different set of circumstances than we are today.

In recent months, Australians had largely been enjoying few restrictions after the country successfully contained the spread of coronavirus, but critics say a glacial vaccine rollout has left the nation vulnerable to outbreaks from hotel quarantine facilities. The virus has leaked out of make-shift hotel quarantine facilities across Australia 17 times in six months, according to the opposition Labor party.

Merlino said from tomorrow, vaccinations at state sites would be expanded to include residents over the age of 40, who will be eligible to receive the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccines.

Additional vaccine doses were also being sent to Victoria.

"My message to those Victorians: If you're eligible, get vaccinated".

Prime Minister Scott Morrison batted away the criticisms, saying "no system is foolproof" and pointing to Australia's now low infection and death numbers when compared to other countries around the world.

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