Country’s second-most populous state, Victoria, reports 11 new cases of coronavirus on Monday
Australia’s second-most populous state, Victoria, recorded 11 new cases of coronavirus on Monday, as authorities warned that the days ahead would be “critical” in the bid to curb the spread of the virus.
The state had reported five new Covid cases in the 24 hours before midnight, with authorities announcing another six cases after that cutoff point, bringing the current cluster up to 51.
Victoria had already entered a seven-day lockdown on Friday after state capital Melbourne recorded new Covid-19 infections, bringing its three-month track record of zero community cases to an abrupt end.
The rise in infections in Victoria has raised questions around whether the state’s seven-day lockdown could be extended.
If so, it would be a return to the strict measures Victoria faced during the state’s efforts last year to end its second wave of coronavirus, which killed more than 800 people in the state and accounted for the majority of Covid-related deaths in Australia.
Speaking with reporters, Victoria’s acting premier, James Merlino, said the situation in the state was “incredibly serious” as he warned that the days ahead would be critical.
Victoria faces a “significant” challenge, he said, according to Reuters. “I want to be really clear with everyone that this outbreak may well get worse before it gets better.”
Compared to other countries around the world, Australia has been one of the most successful nations in managing coronavirus outbreaks.
The country’s strong contact tracing system, strict social distancing rules and swift introductions of lockdowns in response to rises in Covid cases have been credited for helping save lives.
Still, the government has faced some scrutiny over its slow vaccine rollout in the midst of supply constraints and issues with vaccine hesitancy over the AstraZeneca jab after Australia enforced age restrictions in response to cases of vaccine recipients experiencing rare blood clots.
Still, the recent outbreak in Victoria appears to have pushed people to get the jab, with the federal health minister, Greg Hunt, asserting that a record 630,547 doses had been delivered last week, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.
The number represents twice the number of vaccinations being administered four weeks ago, with around 4.24 million doses having so far been delivered across the country.