Authorities have stated that nonessential businesses in Melbourne are to close for at least six weeks from Wednesday, August 5, in an attempt to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the city. In addition to the closure of most stores, industries such as construction and meat processing will have to limit their operations from Friday, August 7. Health officials reported 429 new COVID-19 infections and 13 deaths in Victoria state on Monday, August 3.
Victoria also declared a 'State of Disaster', which came into effect at 18:00 (local time) on Sunday, August 2, following a rise in COVID-19 cases. The 'State of Disaster' will be effective in addition to the current 'State of Emergency' in Victoria, and will grant the police and decision-making bodies additional powers to enforce regulations to limit the spread of the disease.
The city of Melbourne has entered Stage 4 of COVID-19 restrictions, the highest stage implemented yet, which saw movement restrictions toughened for inhabitants of the city. Residents are limited to travel within a 5 km (3 miles) radius of their homes, with only one person permitted to leave the property to shop for essentials once a day. Public recreational activity is no longer permitted, although people are allowed to leave the house to exercise for up to an hour per day, with one other person, provided they remain within the 5 km (3 miles) radius. Lastly, Melbourne is under a nightly curfew from 20:00 to 05:00, 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. The new restrictions are to remain in place until September 13.
As of August 3, Australian authorities have reported 18,318 COVID-19 cases, with 221 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).
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 the 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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