Australia’s two most populous states are staring at the barrel of new COVID-19 outbreaks after three new locally acquired cases were discovered in Victoria and broke its 61-day infection-free run.
Three people in the Melbourne suburbs, Mitcham, Hallam and Mentone, were confirmed with COVID-19 on Wednesday evening.
The cases – viewed by Victorian authorities as linked to COVID-19 cases in NSW – have put more than 40 people into self-isolation.
NSW has now declared a new COVID-19 cluster for six people in the suburb of Croydon, west of Sydney, that has no clear connections to the mysterious COVID-19 cluster on the city’s northern beaches.
NSW recorded 18 local cases of COVID-19 between 24 hours and 8 p.m. Tuesday – nine of which are linked to the northern Sydney beach area, which remains on lockdown due to its 138 virus cluster.
Six cases, all from an extended family, have been linked to Croydon while the last three cases are being investigated in Wollongong and North Sydney.
The new local cases have led the New South Wales government to limit New Year’s Eve meetings to five across Sydney. The Sydney foreshore is already closed to night owls.
Victoria has also cut down on New Years Eve celebrations, canceled fireworks in Melbourne’s business district and advised residents to avoid the city.
Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said Wednesday he supported NSW’s actions and believed NSW Health would quell the outbreak.
But the Northern Territory decided on Wednesday to ban residents from the suburbs of Sydney, including Croydon, Strathfield and Sutherland.
« NSW Health has been our flagship, if you will, in terms of their contact tracing during this pandemic, » said Dr. Kelly told reporters.
« It is always amazing how quickly you come up with things and how quickly you work through sometimes very complex chains of transmission. ”
Dr. Kelly also said that a highly infectious variant of COVID-19 that is spreading around the world could be safely blunted by Australia’s hotel quarantine system.
The first case of a contagious South African variant of COVID-19 in Australia is a woman who died on Jan.. December arrived in Queensland. She was rushed to Sunshine Coast University Hospital on Tuesday.
The World Health Organization has yet to decide whether the new variant – and a similarly contagious strain that recently developed in the UK – could undermine vaccine adoption around the world.
Australia has identified five cases of the British variant in arrivals from the UK, including two in NSW, two in Victoria and one in South Australia.
Dr. Kelly said Australia’s main health and safety committee would meet on Wednesday and discuss the prospect of COVID-19 testing before the flight, but said Qantas had already performed that function on their flights.
He also said it was unlikely that Australia would allow COVID-vaccinated international arrivals to skip 14 days in quarantine in 2021.
It comes after the federal government announced on Wednesday that it would allow Australians returning from overseas to « alternate entry » if they can prove they have already been vaccinated against the virus.
« This decision must also be carefully considered in the coming months, how it will be dealt with, » said Dr. Kelly.
Meanwhile, Labor again on Wednesday called for a national quarantine center to be set up to expedite the return of Australians overseas.
Victoria, Coronavirus, Melbourne
World News – AU – Nation holds its breath as NSW and Victoria battle COVID-19 outbreaks
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