Australia’s Victoria state to go into five-day snap lockdown amid virus surge

The Australian state of Victoria entered into a snap lockdown from late Thursday, after it recorded two more local cases of the virus.

The latest outbreak brings the total number of virus cases there to 18.

This is the fifth lockdown Victoria has experienced since the pandemic began last year. New restrictions will last until Tuesday.

The restrictions means that about 40% of Australia’s population is now under a stay-at-home order.

“You only get one chance to go hard and go fast. If you wait, if you hesitate, if you doubt, then you will always be looking back wishing you had done more earlier,” Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said.

“I am not prepared to avoid a five-day lockdown now only to find ourselves in a five-week or a five-month lockdown. That is why we are making this very difficult decision.”

The state’s 6.6 million population will have to stay home except for grocery shopping, essential work, exercise or getting vaccinated.

Australia’s second largest city, Melbourne, had largely avoided new cases despite an outbreak in the neighboring state of New South Wales, home to the country’s largest city Sydney.

But earlier this week, a team of Sydney furniture movers travelled to Melbourne, leading to a spread in cases.

New South Wales is also in a five-week lockdown which will last until the end of the month. The highly infectious Delta variant is being blamed for the surge in infections.

Australia has recorded 911 deaths and more than 31,000 cases since the pandemic began.

Earlier this week, it saw its first local Covid death this year, a woman in her 90s who contracted the virus in a family setting.

Australia has used lockdowns and swift contact tracing methods to combat outbreaks.