Outdoor exercise banned in strict lockdown after 22 cases in Australian stateNovember 18, 2020
An Australian state is being put into a harsh circuit-breaker lockdown after an outbreak of 22 coronavirus cases, amid fears of a ‘highly contagious’ strain of the virus spreading.
South Australia began its six-day lockdown from midnight on Wednesday local time, when schools, universities, takeaway food venues, bars and cafes were forced to close.
Outdoor exercise is banned, wearing masks is mandatory and only one person from each household will be allowed to leave home for specific reason each day. The restrictions also require most factories to close, elderly care homes to go into lockdown, and weddings and funerals to be put on hold.
Officials announced the draconian new rules hours before they were implemented, as the authorities linked the strain of Covid-19 to a travellers returning from the UK, and who is in quarantine.
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Premier Steven Marshall said he believes the lockdown will act as a circuit-breaker and reduce the risk of the outbreak spreading further but long supermarket queues were seen in the region.
He said: ‘We need this circuit breaker, this community pause.
‘We are going hard and we are going early. Time is of the essence and we must act swiftly and decisively.’
Some food outlets will be allowed to open as the state tries to avoid a more severe breakout like the one that all but shuttered neighbouring Victoria for more than 100 days.
The southern state, home to just under 1.8 million people, reported two new cases on Wednesday, taking the total to 22.
The cluster started to emerge at the weekend, representing the first serious signs of community transmission in South Australia since mid-April.
Authorities said on Wednesday that a hotel cleaner contracted the virus from a quarantined returned traveller from the United Kingdom.
The cleaner then spread the virus to her extended family in Adelaide, the state’s capital city.
It was taking 24 hours or less for a newly-infected person to become infectious to others, officials added.
Officials plan a further eight days of restrictions following the lockdown in the region.
Peter Collignon, an infectious diseases physician and microbiologist at Canberra Hospital, said given the virus was brought in from an overseas traveller, it would not be a new strain.
He said: ‘It may be different to what has been prevalent in Australia but it isn’t any more deadly or contagious.’
Australia’s Acting Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said South Australian authorities had found secondary cases of COVID-19 were spreading quickly in the new outbreak.
He said: ‘There are a range of options as to why that may be the case but at the moment we don’t have any evidence that the virus has changed in any way to become more infectious or more dangerous.’
Elsewhere, Victoria state, which was the epicentre of Australia’s nearly 28,000 cases until last month, clocked its 19th straight day of zero new cases.
New South Wales state, which includes Sydney, reported zero local and seven imported cases.
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