Authorities announced that they will reimpose certain lockdown restrictions in Metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire Council as of midnight Wednesday (local time), July 8, due to a rise in coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases. Metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire Council will return to stage three restrictions for a six-week period. The restrictions mean that restaurants will only be able to provide takeaway services, the limit on public gatherings will be reduced to two people, and households will no longer be able to welcome visitors. Melbourne residents will be allowed to leave their homes to shop for essentials, seek medical attention or provide care for others, to exercise, and to study or work, if these cannot be done at home.
The border between Victoria and New South Wales (NSW) will close from Wednesday, July 8. The decision has been made following a spike in COVID-19 cases in Melbourne, with over 95 percent of Australia's new infections in the past two weeks being in the city. Air travel between Sydney (NSW) and Melbourne is normally one of the world's busiest routes. The land border closure will be enforced on the NSW side so as not to strain resources in Victoria needed for fighting the outbreak. A permit system will be in place for those who need to cross the border for unavoidable travel and special arrangements are due to be announced for those living in border towns. This will be the first border closure between the two states since the 1919 Spanish flu pandemic.
Victoria state authorities announced that lockdown measures were to be reintroduced in parts of Melbourne on Saturday, July 4. Authorities announced that the postcodes of 3031 and 3051 would be affected, corresponding to the areas of Flemington, Kensington, and North Melbourne. Under these restrictions, residents may only leave their homes for food, medical care, exercise, work, or education. Authorities are also placing nine public housing towers under a "hard lockdown" which confines residents to their apartments. On Wednesday, July 1, authorities introduced lockdowns in the postcodes of 3012, 3021, 3032, 3038, 3042, 3046, 3047, 3055, 3060, and 3064. These latter restrictions will remain in place until July 29.
On Sunday, June 28, Victoria state authorities made testing COVID-19 compulsory for returning travelers following a spike in infections in recent days in the region. Authorities have informed that those who refuse to be tested will have to quarantine for an extra ten days in addition to the 14-day minimum quarantine period.
All Australian citizens and residents returning from abroad are being quarantined in hotels for 14 days at the government's expense. Only Australian citizens, returning permanent residents, and their immediate family members are permitted to enter Australia until further notice.
On June 21, authorities in Victoria state extended the current state of emergency for four weeks until July 19. The previous day it was announced that restrictions limiting the number of visitors to households to five people and outdoor gatherings to ten people would be reimposed as of June 22. Measures had previously been relaxed on June 1 to allow 20 people to gather both in households and outside.
As of July 7, there have been 8755 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Australia, with 106 associated fatalities. Further international spread of the virus is expected in the near term.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly, and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the virus.
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