Australia’s Victoria records 5 local cases of COVID-19 amid lockdown, demand for vaccination rises
MELBOURNE (Reuters) – The Australian state of Victoria on Saturday reported five new local cases of COVID-19 under a strict lockdown, as people rushed to vaccination centers, causing long queues and technological issues.
Infections bring the latest group to 35, but the number of exposure sites visited by those infected has risen to more than 150, putting thousands at risk.
Victoria entered the weeklong lockdown Thursday night, the state’s fourth in the pandemic, forcing residents to stay at home.
“We are taking this outbreak day to day,” Victoria COVID-19 response commander Jeroen Weimar said during a press briefing. “This is the second day of a seven-day lockdown. We asked for seven days because there is a lot of work to be done. “
The outbreak was caused by a traveler who left quarantine at a hotel in the state of South Australia after testing negative, but then tested positive in Melbourne.
People lined up for several hours at vaccination centers on Saturday, trying to book a vaccine or get one without an appointment. A designated state hotline for booking has crashed continuously since Thursday.
“We have seen a record number of people coming forward, so my message is don’t give up, we are doing everything we can,” Victoria’s Health Minister Martin Foley said at the briefing.
Getting the coronavirus vaccine is one of the five reasons Victorians can leave their homes. The others are essential work, health care, groceries and exercise. Running and exercise are limited to two hours per day.
Australia has effectively contained all past outbreaks through rapid contact tracing, instant lockdowns and strict regional border checks, helping to keep its COVID-19 count relatively low, with just over 30,070 cases and 910 deaths.
Reporting by Lidia Kelly; Editing by William Mallard