Australia’s COVID-19 Battle Continues- Melbourne Lockdown Takes A Toll On Residents

Summary

  • Australia braces for a second wave of infection with current cases over 11.8k and more than an average of 280 cases being reported daily.
  • While health officials in the country remain concerned about the transmission rate, a surge in COVID-19 cases in Melbourne could take weeks to subside despite a lockdown and orders to wear masks, opines the country’s Acting chief medical officer.
  • While a large number of tests continue to be made every day, the Victorian government has dispatched further testing facilities and contact tracing expertise into the rural areas.

A prolonged pandemic and a second lockdown- not the ideal aspiration of any nation currently!

Addressing the sudden spike in COVID-19 numbers in Melbourne, Paul Kelly, Chief Medical Officer said that “We have a large, widespread community outbreak”. In his recent press conference, he further added about “some cases appearing in the rural parts of the state”.

Less than a month ago, Australia was broadly foreshadowed as a global leader in battling COVID-19. Still, quarantine lapses in Victoria and stubbornness of the novel coronavirus triggered a flare-up in infections in June 2020. Following the peak of COVID-19 cases at the end of March 2020, there were a relatively low number of new cases reported daily between mid-April and early-June 2020. More than 3.47 million tests have been conducted nationally. Of those tests conducted, 0.3% have been positive. Cases have risen since mid-June.

As on 20 July 2020, Australia has a total of over 11.8k reported cases of COVID-19, including 122 deaths and ~8.2k recoveries. What’s worrisome is the fact that over the past week, there has been an average of 287 new cases reported each day in the country.

Acknowledging the unprecedented spike, Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews, was forced to reintroduce stage 3 restrictions across all of metropolitan Melbourne on 8 July 2020, that will last 6 weeks. The decision to change restrictions was based on an increased risk of transmission of COVID-19 in the Melbourne metropolitan area and the Shire of Mitchell.

Why Melbourne’s Outbreak Intensified?

Though COVID-19 outbreak can affect any city, Melbourne seems to just have unfortunately fallen prey to its brutality. Some reasons that may have propelled the spike could be-

Firstly, local transmission is the current key source of infections, unlike before when most cases were coming from travellers returning from overseas. Secondly, there reportedly have been a breach to a few hotel quarantine rules coupled with systematic failures.

Thirdly, there is a likelihood of a few cases that are being reported now but may have prevailed before, festered undetected in the community. Moreover, some experts opine that with the relaxation of rules and restrictions, the public may have become less vigilant.

Melbourne’s Lockdown Rules

Just when Australians seemed to be emerging from lockdowns since the Federal Government announced a 3-stage plan in May to ease COVID-19 restrictions across the country, the threat from the invisible enemy seems to have taken a toll on the land. From 8 July 2020, the Melbourne metropolitan area along with Mitchell shire immediately to the north returned to a stage three lockdown for 6 weeks. The lockdown was imposed as a lawful direction as part of the current State of Emergency.

As per the new rules-

Meanwhile, states and territories continue to provide further support to Victoria, including through clinical staff and contact tracing.

Melbourne’s Lockdown Life

Melbourne is Australia's second-biggest city and the capital for the state of Victoria. The coastal region is home to over 5 million people who are currently in a partial six-week lockdown. While the second round of lockdown may bring COVID-19 case numbers under control, its impact on businesses, daily lives, changes in social circumstances, and Victorians' mental health may need special attention.

Currently, residents in the lockdown zones are permitted to leave home only for work, study, exercise, medical care or to buy essential supplies under stage 3 restrictions. Meanwhile, cafes, restaurants, pubs, clubs, and bars have been restricted exclusively to takeaway.

Amid Melbourne’s Second Lockdown- Masks Made Mandatory

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has compulsorily and strictly stated that residents in Melbourne must wear masks/ face coverings while leaving their homes from midnight on 22 July 2020, as Victoria recently marked two weeks of triple-digit increases in new COVID-19 cases. There are few exceptions to wearing a mask, for instance, people with a medical reason, children under 12 years of age and the ones with professional reasons or exercising, are exempt. Moreover, for the ones not abiding by the rule, a fine worth $ 140 could also be imposed.

This rule directly indicates that while the world awaits a robust vaccine for the wildly infectious novel coronavirus, changing habits and abiding by rules as simple as wearing a mask when necessary should be a major part of everyone’s routine as a weapon to curb the spread and help flatten the curve.

Meanwhile, across the world, there are over 14.04 million cases, more than 597k confirmed deaths in 216 countries, as per the World Health Organization.

(Note: All currency in AUD unless otherwise specified)


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