Victoria’s fifth lockdown will likely be extended until Friday with fears it could be prolonged even further after the state’s outbreak grew by another 16 cases yesterday.
The growing list of exposure sites has already topped 250 venues and experts suggest that the five-day lockdown that was set to end at 11.59pm on Tuesday will be pushed out.
Health chiefs and senior ministers in the state will reportedly make the final call on an extension within the next 24-hours.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said yesterday it was too early to say if the lockdown would end as planned.
Two of yesterday’s cases were rugby fans who attended AAMI Park on Tuesday to watch the Wallabies versus France clash.
Another was detected in Mildura in the state’s northwest, a development Andrews said was evidence of how fast and far the Delta variant could spread.
Dozens of new venues were listed as exposures sites overnight, including several bars and restaurants in Melbourne’s inner north, South Melbourne Market stores and a CBD McDonalds.
Several train services were also added, along with a number of venues in Mildura after yesterday’s positive case.
Andrews said contact tracers had so far been able to link all new cases to existing clusters, meaning the outbreak was “unfolding as hoped”.
“The fact we’re finding people and getting to people as quickly as we are is clear evidence of how hard our contact tracing team is working … they’re doing a great job for all of us,” he said.
However, the expanding list of exposure sites meant the government was not in a position to say when restrictions would lift – even in regional areas.
“It is too early for us to determine whether we will be able to come out of this lockdown on Tuesday night,” he said.
“I know it’s frustrating, but this virus can reach you as we can see in this Mildura case,” he said. “I will not release any area of the state [from lockdown] unless I have advice to do so. I do not have that advice.
“Everyone is in until midnight Tuesday unless we announce a change.”
Australia’s Labor Leader Bill Shorten said it was hard to not be despondent about the country’s situation when there were 12 million people in lockdown across Australia.
“People are pessimistic and despondent but I think [that’s] because we don’t know when this ends,” he told Channel 9.
“We get that lockdowns work. But we’re not going to be locking down the rest of our lives whenever this variant turns up.
“We need the vaccines and we need it in big numbers, but what I think we need most of all, even beyond quarantine facilities that work, even beyond vaccinations, is we need hope.”
Quarantine-free travel from Victoria to New Zealand was paused at 1.59am (NZT) on Friday.
Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said that decision followed updated public health advice from New Zealand officials.
The pause would run for at least four days from 1.59am (NZT) July 16 and be subject to further review today.
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