A region in Australia is returning to early coronavirus pandemic days after a six-day lockdown began midnight Wednesday, bringing an entire community to a standstill amid a new virus cluster.
The state of South Australia implemented a “circuit breaker” lockdown in an attempt to quash a COVID-19 outbreak that grew to 22 infections this week in the state capital Adelaide. The strict measures closed schools, universities, bars and cafes.
“We are going hard and we are going early,” Premier Steven Marshall said Wednesday. “Time is of the essence.”
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Also, only one person from each household will be allowed to leave home each day – and only for specific reasons. Outdoor exercise is banned, and wearing masks is mandatory.
Additionally, the restrictions require most factories to close, aged-care facilities to go into lockdown, and weddings and funerals to be put on hold.
“We must act swiftly and decisively, we cannot wait to see how bad this becomes,” Marshall said.
According to reports, the cluster of cases broke out after a cleaner at a quarantine hotel was exposed to the virus.
Officials plan a further eight days of restrictions following the lockdown.
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The state of South Australia – which boasts some 1.7 million people – had largely eradicated community transmission of the COVID-19 virus after a nationwide lockdown earlier this year.
“There is no second chance to stop a second wave,” Marshall said. “We are at a critical point, but we will get through this.”
Australia has been praised for its handling of the pandemic, earlier this month marking five months without a new local case. The country has recorded 27,784 cases and 907 deaths as of Thursday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.