The lockdown, the fifth imposed in the state over the course of the pandemic, will not be lifted as scheduled, Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews said on Monday.
“It would be perhaps a few days of sunshine and then there is a very high chance that we’d be back in lockdown again. That’s what I’m trying to avoid,” he said, blaming the continuation of the lockdown on the Delta variant of coronavirus.
“I know that this is not the news that people want to hear but you’ve got to do the right thing, this thing is moving so fast, it’s so challenging, it’s so dynamic.”
Andrews did not specify for how long the standing restrictions would remain in place, promising to provide further details on the decision on Tuesday.
Victoria, Australia’s second-most populous state, which includes the city of Melbourne, entered the five-day lockdown last week after the detection of a handful of coronavirus cases, with the highly transmissible Delta variant believed to have been imported from the neighboring state of New South Wales.
New cases detected in the state have dropped steadily over the past few days, with only 13 local transmissions reported on Monday, down from 16 a day earlier. Still, the situation has been deemed serious enough by the authorities to extend the lockdown.
The current lockdown is the fifth in Victoria since the beginning of the pandemic – and the third in 2021 alone. Nearly half of Australia’s 25 million population are confined to their homes, with a lockdown also continuing in the country’s most populous city of Sydney, plagued by the Delta variant.
The repeated rollout of tough anti-coronavirus restrictions even over a handful of Covid-19 cases, however, has allowed the Australian authorities to keep the pandemic well under control. Since the beginning of the outbreak, the country has registered some 32,000 cases, with just over 900 people succumbing to the disease.
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