The Australian state of Victoria reported five new domestic cases of Covid-19 on Saturday amid a strict lockdown, as people rushed to vaccination centers, causing long lines and technological breakdowns.
The infections bring the last group to 35, but the number of exposure sites that those infected have visited has expanded to more than 150, putting thousands at risk.
Victoria entered a week-long lockdown Thursday night, the state’s fourth shutdown in the pandemic, forcing residents to stay home.
«We are dealing with this outbreak day in and day out,» Jeroen Weimar, leader of the Coronavirus Response in Victoria, said in a press release.
The outbreak was caused by a traveler who left hotel quarantine in the state of South Australia after testing negative but later testing positive in Melbourne.
People lined up for several hours at vaccination centers on Saturday, trying to reserve a shot or get one on a regular basis. The hotline for the designated state has been down continuously since Thursday.
This week Victoria became the first state or territory in Australia to deliver more than 40,000 vaccine doses per day. On Friday, there was a record number of nearly 43,500 doses administered.
Protests and arrests
Police said they arrested 14 people on Saturday at various anti-lockdown and vaccination protests across Melbourne.
The police said in a statement that two of their personnel were lightly injured during one of the arrests, and one of the alleged perpetrators was wounded.
About 150 people protested in the city center and 55 fines were imposed. All public gatherings are prohibited by Victoria’s lockdown restrictions.
«The virus is not responding to protests,» Victoria Health Minister Martin Foley said. «Pretending against the virus will not work. And if you do, you are violating public health orders.»
Getting the Covid-19 vaccine is one of the five reasons Victorians might leave their homes. The other jobs are basic work, healthcare, shopping and exercise. Shopping and exercise are limited to 2 hours per day.
Australia has experienced slow vaccine rollout and increased vaccine frequency due to the country’s success in nearly eliminating the virus.
The country has reported zero domestic cases for 94 days this year, while the numbers remain low in Sundays on most other days.
Australia has effectively contained all previous outbreaks through rapid contact tracing, sudden closures and strict controls at regional borders, which helped keep Covid-19 numbers relatively low, with just over 30,070 cases and 910 deaths. .
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