New Delhi (NVI): South Australia has announced a six-day lockdown to help contain a growing cluster of Covid-19 infections, imposing the nation’s strictest state-wide stay-at-home orders since the pandemic began.
After seven months of no community transmission, the curbs come after 22 people in the state capital Adelaide were infected, after a cleaner at a quarantine hotel was exposed to the virus.
Health authorities say the circuit breaker measures are necessary to avoid a wider outbreak.
From midnight, the state will come to a standstill, with pubs, cafes, takeaway food, and universities to shut.
Only one person from each household will be allowed to leave home each day, and only for specific purposes, authorities said. Schools and universities will also close and mask-wearing will be mandatory.
“Time is of the essence,” state Premier Steven Marshall said on Wednesday. “And we must act swiftly and decisively, we cannot wait to see how bad this becomes.”
On Monday, South Australia saw cases jump from three to 17 overnight, prompting nearly all other states and territories to immediately close internal borders to the country’s new “hotspot.”
Meanwhile, Australia’s second most populous state of Victoria has only recently emerged from one of the world’s longest and toughest lockdowns.
The 4.9 million residents of the state capital Melbourne were under “stay at home” orders for 112 days.
On Wednesday, Victoria recorded its 19th consecutive day of no coronavirus deaths or new cases.
Australia, a nation of around 25 million people, has recorded just over 27,700 coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic – significantly fewer per capita than most developed countries.
The country has taken a lockdown approach combined with rigorous testing and tracing to contain the virus.
Notably, South Australia’s wide-ranging restrictions will be the country’s swiftest and most stringent lockdown.