Melbourne, Australia’s second city, is set to enter a fifth lockdown on Thursday, local officials said, adding that the large island-continent is struggling to contain the spread of new cases of coronavirus.
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Prime Minister Dan Andrews has announced that the measure will apply to the state of Victoria, the capital of Melbourne.
As Sydney’s five million inhabitants have also been restricted since the end of June, the decision brings the number of Australians to 12 million.
Australia currently infects nearly a thousand people a month to spread the Delta variant.
Mr. Andrews made the decision “with a heavy heart” for the fifth lockdown, but felt it was “absolutely necessary” for the state of Victoria.
“None of this pandemic is fair,” he said, adding that 10,000 people are now facing trial in 12 cases in the state.
“We only have one chance to act quickly and well,” he told reporters. “If you wait, if you doubt, if you doubt, then it’s time for you to look back and tell yourself you should have done more.”
The five-day deadline begins Thursday evening.
Australia has long been praised for its early good results in tackling the epidemic, which was mainly due to the closure of the massive island-continent’s borders.
The vaccine campaign is very slow, with less than 10% of the population being vaccinated because most developed countries are starting to take the world into account.
Unlike many countries trying to control the spread of the virus, Australia has chosen a zero case strategy.