Australian leader defends new Melbourne coronavirus lockdown

Marco Green
July 9, 2020

A health spokesperson told ABC News that screening was in place but 48 of the 137 passengers left before health staff had finished screening a prior flight and not all the tests were complete.

Experts have warned that people everywhere will have to get used to the "new normal" of on-and-off restrictions as new clusters emerge and subside, while there are also concerns over the economic and mental health impacts the measures will bring.

Melbourne residents will be allowed to leave home only for essential business for the next six weeks.

Among the new Covid-19 cases in Melbourne were 75 occupants of nine public housing towers that were placed into complete lockdown last week, barring their 3,000 residents from leaving for five days.

Restaurants, cafes and bars will be able to provide takeaway service only, gyms and hair salons closed, household gatherings limited to two people and the current school holiday extended.

The Australian economy will take an economic hit of up to A$1 billion ($700 million) per week from the border closure and Melbourne lockdown, federal treasurer Josh Frydenberg said.

"We are in the process of chasing them up", she said.

Health authorities say they have linked numerous Melbourne coronavirus cases to hotels where residents returning from overseas were being quarantined.

According Dr Trent Yarwood, an infectious diseases expert at James Cook University, all the transmissions reported by health authorities actually happened a week prior.

By contrast, Morrison said, Australia's seven other states and territories would continue to relax their pandemic restrictions.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the country was now considering limiting the number of citizens returning from overseas, after Victoria began diverting global flights to other cities to ease the burden on its quarantine facilities. Visitors are not permitted in homes. The spike has anxious officials, even though the national total of nearly 8,800 cases and 106 deaths is far below many other countries.

Authorities had hastily set up a system to issue travel permits for a select group, mostly commuters in border towns, but a website created to dispense passes crashed soon after its launch on Tuesday evening with officials saying more than 44,000 people applied.

The lockdown covers only Melbourne and an area to the north called the Mitchell Shire, but the state as a whole has been sealed off from the neighbouring states of New South Wales and South Australia.

Police and troops have been stationed at border crossings and patrol the vast borders with drones and other aircraft.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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