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Australia: State extends Melbourne lock-down to curb outbreak

A snap lockdown in Melbourne has been extended for another week as part of efforts to curb an outbreak of the highly contagious Covid-19 variant first detected in India.

The Australian city’s residents face another seven days of only being allowed to leave home for essential reasons, which includes getting a coronavirus vaccine, authorities have confirmed. It comes after the whole of Victoria, the second-most populous state, was sent into lockdown for the fourth time since the start of the pandemic towards the end of last month.

Authorities tightened restrictions amid concern over a cluster of new Covid-19 cases, which doubled to 26 infections over the course of a day and saw thousands identified as contacts.

The “circuit-breaker” lockdown was initially set to run for seven days, ending on Thursday, 3rd of June, 2021. But officials have said that in Melbourne, the lockdown will continue for another week.

This means residents must stay at home unless it is to go to work, get groceries, for healthcare reasons, to exercise or get vaccinated against Covid-19.
Restrictions will likely be relaxed for people in other regions in the state - depending on any local transmission in the next 24 hours, though other measures like mandatory mask-wearing will remain in place.

Health authorities have said the Delta variant could only take one day to pass from person to person, compared with earlier strains where transmission could take about five or six days of contact. Six new locally acquired cases were reported on Wednesday, versus nine a day earlier, taking the total infections in the latest outbreak to 60.

"If we let this thing run its course, it will explode," James Merlino, the Victoria state’s acting premier, said on Wednesday. "This variant of concern will become uncontrollable and people will die.