Australian state of Victoria enters 7-day snap lockdown

Westpac economists believe the shutdown of Melbourne for 6 weeks will worsen the national economy. CREDIT: EAMON GALLAGHER. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

MELBOURNE, Aug 5, 2021, Victorians have been plunged into a 7-daysnap lockdown from 8pm tonight, as the state grapples with growing cases of Covid-19, reported.

Residents will only be able to leave their home for five reasons – being to shop for essentials, for authorised work or permitted education, to provide care and for medical and compassionate reasons, to get vaccinated or tested and to exercise for a maximum of two hours.

Speaking to media, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said he had “no alternative” but to take lockdown action across the entire state.

“I would prefer we didn’t have to make this decision,” he said on Thursday afternoon, additing it would be “unlikely” for the lockdown to lift any sooner.

“But my fear is if we were to wait a few days … there is every chance, instead of being locked down for a week, this gets away from us and we are potentially locked down until we all get vaccinated.

“I can’t tell you how disappointed I am to have to be here doing this again. But with so few in the community with one vaccination let alone two, I have no choice.”

Six locally transmitted cases of the virus were confirmed on Thursday morning, with three of those infections under investigation, sending contact tracers scrambling.

Two more cases, which have not been included in today’s numbers, were also announced, bringing the total number of new cases to eight.

The rise in cases sparked an urgent meeting between Victorian government officials and health authorities on Thursday afternoon.

Mr Andrews said the 8pm commencement of the state’s new lockdown is in an attempt to stop groups gathering at hospitality and other venues on what is traditionally a busy Thursday night.

Prior to the state’s last lockdown, Cremorne restaurant Miss Frankies became an exposure site after the virus was spread in the hours before the midnight lockdown came in.

“This evening please go home, and begin that lockdown,” Mr Andrews pleaded.

“Don’t be out and about because all you might be doing is spreading the virus.”

Mr Andrews said the reason the 7-day lockdown would apply to regional Victoria — despite the new cases being in the city — is because sewerage testing has detected the virus in the state’s North-East.

“Wangaratta sewerage test has pinged, firstly positive, then it went negative, now it’s gone positive again,” he explained.

“We have some reason to believe there is Covid-19 in that community or has been in that community.

“We always have to assume there are more cases out there then we have positive test results, and with one sewerage detection we have to assume there are cases. That’s why it is statewide [lockdown] and I think as painful as it is, and counterintuitive sometimes as it is, we don’t want this taking hold in country Victoria.”

Mr Andrews shut down suggestion the state exited their fifth lockdown “too early” or “with haste”. The Premier said the reason for 7-days is because medical advice suggests the state may need that length of time rather than 3 days.

“Given that this is not just one mystery case but potentially two, we think that we may need as long as seven days,” he said. “We will monitor that every single day.

“I don’t want to be foreshadowing or giving people false hope that on Monday I’m gonna be standing here saying it’s all fine and we will open up again, and I think that is not going to happen. Seven days is what we believe is necessary, and let’s hope that it is accurate.”

Authorities are bracing for a fresh Covid-19 outbreak at Al-Taqwa College, in Truganina, outside Melbourne, amid concerns a teacher, who lives in Hobsons Bay, may have unknowingly been infectious for days.

Urgent genomic sequencing is underway for this case, along with one of their household contacts and a case who lives in Maribyrnong.

Three other cases announced today are close contacts of the Moonee Valley case.

The two new cases that were confirmed after the official reporting period are linked to the Hobsons Bay cluster and are relatives of the partner of the Al-Taqwa College teacher.

Covid response commander, Jeroen Weimar, said more tests results would be in throughout the day and “will inform the next stage of our public health response”.

Earlier today, Health minister Martin Foley said he had “nothing to say at this time” regarding lockdown.

“When we get public health advice on how to respond, we will be sure to share that as quickly as we possibly can with the Victorian people,” he said.

“Our public health teams consider all the material as it comes to hand. As you’ve heard from particularly Jeroen’s contribution a lot of the information is being collated at the moment.

“We need to look upstream for acquisition sources for these three cases and the further case that Jeroen pointed to from family acquisition that has emerged today and we need to look downstream as to exposure sites. So putting that all together, our public health team will make a risk assessment and will bring forward their decision as and when it’s made.”

Victoria’s fifth lockdown ended on July 27 – one which saw the state log six months of lockdown since the start of the pandemic.

Lockdown 6 began trending on Twitter shortly after the numbers were posted on the social media website.

The fifth lockdown was announced on July 14 and on July 15, 10 cases were reported.

However, in the days leading up to the lockdown, there was one case recorded on the 14th and two cases reported on the 13th.

Al-Taqwa College – which recorded 210 cases during Victoria’s catastrophic second wave – has again been shut, with the more than 300 staff and 2095 students ­ordered into immediate ­isolation.

The female teacher underwent a covid test on Tuesday and received a positive result on Wednesday, but health investigators believe she may have been infectious since July 28, including three days last week at school.

A football club in Melbourne’s west has also been placed on high alert after a Newport Football Club player tested positive on Wednesday.

The player is understood to be a household contact of the Al-Taqwa teacher. The club has not yet been listed as an exposure site while contact tracers work to determine his infectious period.

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