Victoria declares state of disaster as infections surge
Australia’s second-largest city is locked down tighter this week after the state of Victoria declared a state of disaster, under which police are granted sweeping powers and some acts of parliament are temporarily suspended.
On Sunday, Victorian premier Daniel Andrews announced 671 more coronavirus cases, making a total of 11,557 infections in the state of about 6.5m people.
Of those, 598 are under investigation with no known transmission cause.
Mr Andrews said there were 760 “mystery cases” in the state. “We cannot trace back the source of the person’s infection, who they got it from, where or how,” he said in a Sunday press conference. “This mystery is our biggest challenge and a reason to move to a different set of rules.”
He said an 8pm to 5am curfew would be imposed on Melbourne and an adjoining municipality from Sunday evening.
Police would be out in force, he said. “This is all about limiting movement.”
On Sunday, police and defence force personnel began foot patrols of the city, including the popular Docklands area, pictured.
“With that many [mystery] cases you must assume you have even more. We must err on the side of caution and go further and go harder.”
From 6pm on Sunday, Victoria introduced a new series of stage 4 restrictions — the most stringent. “The stay at home conditions are enhanced with additional limits,” Mr Andrews said. “It is no longer available to go beyond 5km from home.”
Only one person could exercise at a time, he said. “So no three sets of tennis, no rounds of golf.”
Mr Andrews said there could be no groups bigger than two people, with “commonsense exceptions for children who need to be looked after”.
The state death toll rose to 123, with seven more fatalities, all people aged in their 70s to 90s, and all but one in aged-care homes.
Victoria, with about 25 per cent of the country’s population, has nearly two-thirds of its Covid-19 cases.
On Saturday, Victoria reported another 397 new Covid-19 cases and three more deaths. The national death toll reached 200 over the weekend, with Victoria accounting for about 60 per cent of those.