Australian City Declared “Extreme Risk” By Neighboring State
MELBOURNE, Australia — The southeast Australian state of Victoria, home to Melbourne, is “on track” for a planned easing of Covid-19 restrictions on July 27, Bret Sutton, the chief health officer, has indicated while it is not set in stone.
The state recorded 12 new locally acquired cases on July 24. Ten of them were in quarantine throughout their entire infectious period, and all are linked to current outbreaks.
The numbers continue an encouraging downward trend in new diagnoses after 14 cases were reported on July 23 and 26 on the day before.
Sutton introduced a new travel designation for the northern neighbor state of New South Wales late on July 23, making the whole state an “extreme risk zone” backdated to July 9.
This makes it difficult for Victorians in the southeastern state, New South Wales, to come home unless they get a rare exemption or have a Specified Worker Permit.
“It is very strict in terms of the movement of people across the border,” he said.
Asked whether Victoria could expect an easing of its own restrictions on July 27 as scheduled, Sutton said the signs were positive, but he declined to commit to it.
Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley insists the risk designation of New South Wales is a natural progression of attempts to protect Victoria and not to do with Premier Daniel Andrews’ call for a “ring of steel” blockade around Sydney.
He also moved on July 24 to hose down the idea of tensions with New South Wales over a lack of willingness to redirect vaccines to Sydney’s Covid-ridden suburbs.
Foley said Victoria and other states had “legitimate demands” on scarce vaccines for July and August, which had already been allocated to them based on population.
However, he welcomed recent reports of spare Pfizer doses in the national stockpile and said he would be happy for those to be sent to New South Wales.
Meanwhile, an anti-lockdown protest in Melbourne was brought to a violent end as police used pepper spray to clear the crowd.
Thousands of protesters of all ages chanted “freedom” as they gathered outside Victoria’s Parliament House, with rallies also taking place in Sydney and Brisbane.
“We can all argue the merits or otherwise of various approaches to managing transmission, but let’s not pretend that ‘marching for freedom’ will actually deliver the precious freedom that we all need and desire. end/,” tweeted Sutton.
Victoria administered 19,281 vaccine doses as of July 24 and conducted 39,846 Covid-19 tests.
More than 22,000 Victorians are primary close contacts isolating at home, with about 2500 Melbourne Cricket Ground contacts about to be released from 14 days of confinement.
Edited by Saptak Datta and Krishna Kakani