Covid lockdown measures covering five million residents in Melbourne have been extended for a further seven days, as officials work to “run this thing to ground” and contain a cluster of cases in Australia’s second-largest city.
The initial seven-day lockdown imposed on the area had been due to expire at midnight on Thursday but Victoria’s acting premier, James Merlino, announced the restrictions would be extended for another week due to concerns over the spread of the Kappa variant.
The initial cluster of cases is thought to have been caused by an individual who arrived in Australia infected with the Kappa variant, a strain first identified in India. The infected individual is believed to have potentially had thousands of close contacts, who have been identified and informed, with 350 cases confirmed so far.
Speaking on Wednesday, Merlino warned that the new variant appears to be “quicker and more contagious than we have ever seen before,” with experts linking the variant to multiple clusters in a number of countries worldwide.
We’ve got to run this thing to ground, otherwise people will die.
While the stay-at-home order will remain in place across Melbourne, individuals living elsewhere in Victoria will have restrictions such as caps on weddings and funerals lifted, with students in the city allowed to return to take their exams.