Aus PM vows lockdown support for 2nd-most populous state

People queue in their cars at a Covid-19 testing station in Melbourne

People queue in their cars at a Covid-19 testing station in Melbourne

The Victorian government has imposed a seven-day state-wide "circuit breaker" lockdown starting at midnight Thursday after 26 new CCP virus cases emerged from a cluster of the Indian variant linked to South Australian hotel quarantine.

According to Albanese, it was the 17th Covid-19 outbreak linked to hotel quarantine.

The restrictions mean people can leave their homes for only five reasons: shopping for food, attending authorised work or study, exercising (with one other person), providing care, and getting vaccinated.

Responding to the lockdown announcement, Morrison praised the "tremendous job" of contact tracers and promised "every support" available for the state including 130,000 additional vaccine doses.

Unless there is a drastic improvement in the Melbourne situation, the affected teams will need to either be in NT quarantine, or be in another jurisdiction that has free access to the NT, by June 3.

Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said the variant was the same one identified in India and designated by the World Health Organization as a variant of concern.

In a statement, Merlino said: "It's clear more than ever, this virus isn't going away and vaccines are the only way we'll ever get back to normal". It is unclear how exactly the virus got from Case A to this man, but he went on to infect at least 14 others. Restaurants, pubs and cafes can only stay open for takeaway.

A man in his 60s, who was among the five cases announced on Tuesday, is still believed to be the earliest known infection in the new outbreak.

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Visitors to aged care facilities will be banned except for limited reasons, while visitors to hospitals will be restricted to those supporting a partner during birth, a parent accompanying a child, or end of life reasons.

Victoria will go to into lockdown from 11.59 tonight (local time) for a week as a result of Melbourne's Covid-19 cluster.

The additions bring the number of people in Victoria's latest cluster to 26. Sadly, we have one of those people in an ICU, on a ventilator, in not a very good way.

The "circuit-breaker" lockdown is created to allow contact tracers to get on top of cases, with residents permitted to leave home only for essential reasons including getting vaccinated.

"If we had an alternative to hotel quarantine for this particular variant of concern, we would not be here today".

"If you are eligible to get vaccinated, make yourself a plan to do that today, to get it done", the state's health minister said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison batted away the criticisms, saying "no system is foolproof" and pointing to Australia's now low infection and death numbers when compared to other countries around the world.

From Friday morning, Victoria will expand the eligibility for vaccinations, with people in the 40 to 49-year-old age group able to receive the Pfizer jab at state-run vaccination sites.

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