Australia has closed the border and stopped the crossing between two of most its populated states, New South Wales and Victoria to stem the spread of infection in Melbourne. The pandemic in the capital of Victoria has recorded hundreds of cases in the past 2 weeks which accounts for over 95% of new COVID-19 cases in country. The two states until recently had their borders open while others have closed them. The closure started on Wednesday restricting travel to permit holders. Talking about the decision the Premier of Victoria, Daniel Andrews said the decision was made and announced after consultation with New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian and PM Scott Morrison.
“This is one of those precautionary measures – it is one of those things that I think will help us in broader terms to contain the spread of the virus,” Mr. Andrews told the reporters on Monday. He gave no hint as when the border would be re-opened for movement. The air-route between Melbourne and Sydney – the capitals of Victoria and NSW – makes one of the world’s busiest aerial routes.
The PM and two premiers have previously maintained that border closures were not necessary but the spike in local transmission has rang the alarm.
“This is unprecedented in Australia. We have not seen anything like this,” said NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian.
Mr. Andrews added that those who had unavoidable travel could seek permits for the cross-border movement. He acknowledged the decision would have serious social and economic implications but said the move was necessary given “the significant challenges we face in containing the virus”.
Victoria registered 127 new confirmed cases on Monday, the highest daily increase since the pandemic kicked off. Just a month ago. when no cases were reported for two straight days, authorities claimed they were nearing the victory against COVID-19 in the Australia. On Saturday nine apartment tower blocks in Melbourne witnessed a hard lockdown – restricting 3,000 people at their homes – after authorities detected a host of new cases.
At least 36 other hotspot suburbs were sealed in a separate lockdown last week. However, unlike those residing in tower blocks, they can leave home for work, groceries, gym/exercise and others tasks. The military has also been mobilized to assist Victorian government in rapid screening. The testing capacity in the state is currently 20,000 tests a day. The new wave of cases is threatening Australia’s easy success in fight against novel coronavirus. Despite the recent surge, Australia has fared better than many nations against the pandemic and since January Australia has recorded 105 deaths and around 8,500 cases.