About seven million Australians in the state of Victoria are ordered to enter a seven-day COVID-19 lockdown beginning Thursday night, in a bid to curb the spiking number of coronavirus cases.
Authorities have ordered residents in Victoria – the most populous state in Australia – to stay inside their homes unless they needed to leave for essential work, healthcare, grocery shopping or exercise.
“We’re dealing with a highly infectious strain of the virus, a variant of concern, which is running faster than we have ever recorded,” Victoria state Acting Premier James Merlino said in a press release on Thursday. “Unless something drastic happens, this will become increasingly uncontrollable.”
According to Merlino, contact tracers in Victoria were able to identify more than 10,000 primary and secondary contacts that would be subject to quarantine, test and self-isolate.
He added that health experts expect that the number of COVID-19 cases “will continue to grow and change.”
The snap lockdown would remain in effect for one week.
The decision came after a fresh cluster of infections in Melbourne doubled overnight from 12 to 26 cases.
Some officials also blamed the slow vaccination program and hotel quarantine failures for a fresh virus outbreak.