AFP, published on Friday July 16, 2021 at 1:40 p.m.
The streets of Melbourne were sadly empty on Friday morning, hours after the start of a fifth lockdown in Australia’s second-largest city, as the country struggles to contain another outbreak.
Since Sydney has been subject to a similar measure since the end of June, a total of more than 12 million Australians are now being asked to stay at home.
“You look at the city today, there is no one here anymore. It is as if the city is asleep,” resident Mike Cameron told AFP.
People are only allowed to leave their homes for certain very specific reasons, such as shopping or playing sports. And many are crossing their fingers that this confinement does not last.
“We hope it will actually only be five days,” said Matilda Dempsey, 18. “I think it’s very playable, and I’m glad it was decided very quickly.”
“I think in Sydney they got it too late, and now they’re stuck in a bad situation.”
After an initial one-week extension in Sydney, the epicenter of the current outbreak, containment was scheduled until July 16, but it was extended at least until July 30.
– ‘zero case’ strategy –
Australia has long been praised for its initial good results in dealing with the pandemic, which have mainly been due to the very strict closure of the borders of the huge island-continent.
But the vaccination campaign is extremely slow – less than 10% of the population is vaccinated – as many developed countries begin to consider the world after.
Unlike many countries that are trying to control the circulation of the virus, Australia has opted for a zero case strategy.
Melbourne recorded six cases on Friday, all linked to known outbreaks. In total, the city has 24 contaminations as part of this epidemic wave.
But many possible outbreaks of infection have been identified in the state capital of Victoria, including the stadium which recently hosted the rugby match between France and Australia. Authorities fear that thousands of people may have been exposed to the virus there.
In total, a thousand cases have been identified in one month in the country.
This figure is significantly lower than the balance sheets of most major cities in the world. But it poses a significant challenge for Australia because of its zero-case strategy.
The Sydney outbreak presumably started from an unvaccinated driver who was caring for airline crews and who tested positive in mid-June.