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Australian state of Victoria to enter its fifth lockdown amid Delta Covid threat

Australian state of Victoria to enter its fifth lockdown amid Delta Covid threat
State Premier Daniel Andrews has announced that Victoria is to be put into its fifth lockdown and placed under stay-at-home orders for five days to quell a surge in coronavirus cases.

Andrews made the decision to impose the restrictions on Australia’s second most populous state on Thursday. They will come into effect from 11:59pm local time and last for five days, in response to an increase in infections linked to the Delta variant. Andrews said a strict, quick approach was required to prevent the virus spreading. “If we act now, while we’re right on the heels of this outbreak, we can give ourselves every chance of getting ahead of it”.

Thursday’s announcement will see Victoria plunged into its fifth lockdown since the outbreak of the pandemic – its third in 2021 alone.

All residents are subject to a stay-at-home mandate, with the only exceptions for leaving being two daily hours of exercise in under a five-kilometer (three-mile) radius, caregiving duties, work, education, or attending an appointment for a coronavirus vaccination. On Wednesday, face masks were also made mandatory in all indoor public settings in the state, but this has since been extended to outdoor public places to lower transmission rates.

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Victoria has recorded 27 cases in the past two weeks, with 18 of those recorded on Wednesday alone. The highly contagious Delta variant is thought to have been brought into the state from neighboring New South Wales, after infected furniture movers traveled from Sydney to Melbourne earlier this week.

On Wednesday, New South Wales State Premier Gladys Berejiklian extended the lockdown measures in Sydney, which had been put in place on June 26. These will remain until the end of July at the earliest. Coronavirus infections in the state show no signs of slowing down, with cases now approaching the 900 mark.

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With Victoria joining Sydney in stay-at-home measures, this means that half of Australia’s population is now in a state of lockdown.

The country had managed to weather the pandemic relatively well in its earlier stages, imposing strict, early lockdowns and closing its borders, and has so far recorded 31,431 cases and fewer than 1,000 deaths. But it has experienced a slow vaccine roll-out and has not been left unscathed by the Delta variant that has been wreaking havoc worldwide. As of July 11, 10% of Australia’s population is fully vaccinated, while almost 27% have received one dose.

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