Authorities in the State of Victoria have declared a 'State of Disaster', to go into effect from 18:00 (local time) on Sunday, August 2, following a rise in coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases. The 'State of Disaster' will be effective in addition to the current 'State of Emergency' in effect in Victoria, and will grant the police and other decision-making bodies additional powers to enforce regulations to limit the spread of the disease.
In addition, the city of Melbourne will enter Stage 4 of COVID-19 restrictions, the highest stage implemented yet, which will see movement restrictions toughened for inhabitants of the city. Residents are to be limited to a 5 km (3 mile) radius around their house, with only one person permitted to leave the house for the purpose of shopping, once per day. Recreational activity will no longer be permitted, although people will be permitted to leave the house to exercise for up to an hour, provided they remain within the 5 km radius and remain in groups of two or less. Lastly, Melbourne will be under a curfew from 20:00 to 05:00 nightly, with movement only permitted for essential reasons, such as for work or to give or receive care.
In rural Victoria, Stage 3 restrictions are to be implemented from midnight on Wednesday, August 5. Residents are to remain at home for all reasons other than shopping, work, to give or receive care, or to exercise, and public places such as bars, restaurants, and gyms are to close. Students throughout Victoria are to return to remote learning from Wednesday, with exceptions for those whose parents are working. Further restrictions for workplaces are to be announced on Monday, August 3. The new restrictions are to remain in place until September 13.
As of August 2, Victorian authorities have recorded over 10,931 confirmed cases of the virus, and 116 associated fatalities. Throughout Australia, 17,269 cases have been reported, with 201 fatalities. Further international spread of the virus is to be 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). Since then, human-to-human transmission of the virus has been confirmed.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, dry cough, and tiredness. Some patients may experience other symptoms such as body pains, nasal congestion, headache, conjunctivitis, sore throat, diarrhea, loss of taste or smell or a rash on skin or discoloration of fingers or toes. These symptoms (in most cases mild) appear gradually. Generally, most patients (around 80 percent) recover from the disease without being hospitalized.
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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