Tag Archives: Melbourne

Australia open left empty amid Melbourne’s fresh lockdown.

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With a population of 25 million, there have been approximately 22,200 community cases and 909 deaths.

Australia’s second-most populous state of Victoria, including capital Melbourne, entered a five-day lockdown on Saturday as authorities raced to prevent a third wave of COVID-19 cases set off by the highly infections UK variant.

One new locally acquired case was confirmed in the past 24 hours, Victoria health authorities said on Saturday, taking the number of active cases in the state to 20.

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“A lot of people will be hurting today. This is not the position Victorians wanted to be in but I can’t have a situation where, in two weeks’ time, we look back and wish we had taken these decisions now,” Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews told reporters on Saturday.

Andrews said Prime Minister Scott Morrison had agreed to stop all international flights to Melbourne through Wednesday, after five planes en route, with about 100 passengers, land on Saturday.

The cluster that triggered the renewed restrictions were staying in a quarantine hotel at Melbourne Airport.

It is the third lockdown imposed on Melbourne. The first two lockdowns were implemented when infections spread in March 2020, and then in July, which lasted for about four months.

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Streets in downtown Melbourne, the state’s capital, and its suburbs were almost empty early on Saturday, with people ordered to stay home except for essential shopping, two hours of outdoor exercise, caregiving, or work that cannot be done from home.

Among the “essential” work, play at the Australian Open, the year’s first Grand Slam tennis event which runs to February 21, continued, but fans were banned through Wednesday.

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Thousands were forced to leave before midnight, sometimes in the middle of matches, on Friday.

One new locally acquired case in Victoria was confirmed in the past 24 hour, taking the number of active infections to 20 [Brandon Malone/AFP]

‘Soul destroying’
The lockdown, which has shut restaurants and cafes except for takeaway, hit just as Melbourne had geared up for the biggest weekend in nearly a year, with Lunar New Year celebrations, Valentine’s Day and Australian Open crowds.

Melbourne last year endured a 111-day lockdown, one of the strictest and longest in the world at the time, to stem a coronavirus outbreak which led to more than 800 deaths.

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“It’s the busiest weekend of the year for us. I’m sitting here making 178 heartbreaking phone calls to see if I can get them to rebook,” said Will Baa, owner of Lover, a restaurant in the hip district of Windsor.

“It is quite soul destroying. But we’re resilient. Just fingers crossed that it only does extend for the short period of five days,” he said.

More broadly, Australia is rated among the world’s most successful countries in tackling the pandemic, largely because of decisive lockdowns and borders sealed to all but a trickle of travellers.

With a population of 25 million, there have been approximately 22,200 community cases and 909 deaths.

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New Zealand on Saturday also reported one death of a patient with COVID-19.

The person had been taken to hospital from quarantine for an unrelated condition and later tested positive. That case has yet to be included in the country’s total of 25 COVID-19 deaths.

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#Newsworthy

COVID-19: Anti-lockdown protest in Melbourne turns riot.

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Police detain protesters rallying against virus restrictions in the capital of Australia’s hardest-hit Victoria state.

  • Police in the Australian city of Melbourne have made arrests among a crowd of about 300 people protesting against the coronavirus lockdown.
  • India’s caseload topped four million, while South Korea posted its lowest daily tally in three weeks. 
  • Iraq’s health ministry warned hospitals may “lose control” in the coming days after the country recorded its highest single-day rise in coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic.
  • More than 26.5 million people around the world have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, and more than 872,000 have died, according to Johns Hopkins University. More than 17.6 million people have recovered.

#Newsworthy…

COVID-19: Australia imposes curfew on Melbourne

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Australia imposed an overnight curfew on its second-biggest city Sunday and banned people from moving more than five kilometres from home in a bid to control a growing coronavirus outbreak that is infecting hundreds daily.

Declaring a “state of disaster”, Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said Melbourne would move to Stage 4 restrictions until September 13 given “unacceptably high” levels of community transmission.

The harshest rules in Australia to date will see city residents face a curfew from 8 pm to 5 am for the next six weeks. Only those carrying out essential work, or seeking or providing care, will be allowed out.

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“The time for leniency, the time for warnings and cautions is over,” Andrews said.

“If you are not at home and you should be, if you have the virus and are just going about your business, you will be dealt with harshly. Lives are at stake.”

Melbourne residents will be limited to an hour of exercise a day, no further than five kilometres (about three miles) from home starting Sunday night.

Only one person per household will be able to shop for essential items each day, also within the same strict radius.

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Most school and university students in Melbourne will go back to online learning from midnight Wednesday, just weeks after returning to their classrooms, while weddings will also be banned.

A group of police and soldiers patrol the Docklands area of Melbourne on August 2, 2020, after the announcement of new restrictions to curb the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. AFP

The sweeping new measures follow a city-wide lockdown that began in early July but has failed to curb the spread of the virus, with Andrews blaming the continuing rise in cases on people flouting stay-at-home orders.

‘Months, and months and months’
“These are the decisions made because anything short of this will not keep us safe,” Andrews said, adding anything less “will see it drag on for months and months and months”.

Additional restrictions affecting workplaces would be announced Monday, Andrews added, suggesting that non-essential businesses will face closures.

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Victoria accounts for the vast majority of active coronavirus cases in Australia, recording 671 new cases and seven deaths from the virus Sunday.

Health authorities have linked the resurgence to security bungles at hotels used to quarantine international travellers that allowed the virus to leak back into the community.

The state’s chief health officer, Brett Sutton, said an estimated 20,000 cases were averted during Stage 3 restrictions, but flattening the curve to hundreds of new cases a day was “intolerable”.

“We need to see those numbers through the eyes of our healthcare workers and the kind of awful fear that they have about what it means for people presenting to hospital,” he said.

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The virus has spread rapidly among vulnerable residents in aged-care centres, where government disaster relief teams have been deployed to replace infected staff.

Outside Melbourne, the rest of Victoria will move to a Stage 3 lockdown from midnight Wednesday with people allowed to leave home only for essential work, study, care and needed supplies.

Elsewhere in Australia, other states and territories have for weeks reported few or no new cases while relaxing restrictions.

A group of police and soldiers patrol the Docklands area of Melbourne on August 2, 2020, after the announcement of new restrictions to curb the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. AFP

They have, however, banned visitors from Victoria and Sydney — another virus hotspot.

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New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said people were now being “strongly encouraged” to wear masks, particularly on public transport, in shops and at places of worship as the state attempts to avoid the fate of neighbouring Victoria.

“We are holding the line and doing OK but I cannot stress enough that the next few weeks will make or break us, in terms of the way we get through this pandemic,” she told reporters in Sydney.

Berejiklian added that unlike in Victoria, masks were not compulsory but would instead act as a “fourth line of defence” after testing, social distancing and hand-washing.

Australia’s total reported infections reached almost 18,000 on Sunday, with 208 deaths in a population of 25 million.


#Newsworthy…