SYDNEY - Parts of Australia's second biggest city, Melbourne, are to go back into COVID-19 lockdown Wednesday following a surge in cases. Authorities have said 36 suburbs have had an "unacceptably high" number of new infections detected in the past few days.
Australia has had 7,834 confirmed coronavirus cases. 104 people have died.
With 73 infections, Victoria has accounted for almost all of the national tally of new COVID-19 cases in the past 24-hours.
Failures in the hotel quarantine program are being blamed. Travelers returning to Australia from overseas face a mandatory 14-days in isolation.
The state government has said that breaches in security have been linked to the spread of the disease in parts of Melbourne. Health officials have said the surge in infections was ‘heart breaking.’
More than 300,000 people will face legally-enforceable restrictions on their movement as dozens of suburbs are once again placed into lockdown.
The Victoria premier Daniel Andrews is warning that the pandemic “will not be over for a long time” and says strict lockdown measures are needed.
“The chief health officer has advised me to reimpose restrictions, so they will be stay at home orders and they will run for four weeks. There will only be four reasons that you are permitted to leave your house and only if you really have to; for work or school, for care or care-giving, for daily exercise, for food and other essentials,” Andrews said.
Fines of about $1,000 could be imposed if residents leave their homes without good reason. They are also banned from traveling to neighboring New South Wales. Anyone from a virus hotspot in Melbourne who tries to cross the border in defiance of public health orders could face a fine of almost US $7,500 or up to six months' in prison.
Disease control measures in New South Wales are being eased. Museums, libraries and some cinemas can now reopen, while more passengers are allowed on public transport. Queensland is also planning to reopen its borders to other Australian jurisdictions in 10 days’ time, although travellers from Victoria will face restrictions.