Australia nears STAGE FOUR lockdown with major restrictions – six million to stay indoors

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The Australian Medical Association Victoria said a Stage Four “New Zealand-style lockdown” would soon be needed to get the state’s case numbers down and avoid hospitals being overwhelmed. Such a move would see the enforced closure of nearly all businesses and confine more than six million people to their homes.

I would suggest that stronger measures for a shorter period might be a preferable strategy

Julian Rait

The number of new infections in the state surged by 532 to a total of 8,696 yesterday – 96 percent of Australia’s infections, the largest increase since the beginning of the pandemic and the state’s 22nd straight day of triple-digit cases.

Australia has avoided the high COVID-19 casualty rates of other countries but a wave of community transmission in Victoria has prompted a lockdown in the capital Melbourne, the only Australian city where facemasks are mandatory in public.

State health officials said there 4,542 active cases including 400 healthcare workers, 245 patients in hospital and 44 in intensive care.

The Australian Medical Association Victoria President Julian Rait said: “What New Zealand did for a month is that they closed pretty much all businesses other than pharmacies, medical clinics, grocery stores, petrol stations and really curtailed a lot of retail shopping and a lot of businesses.

“That’s the model that I would look to and clearly they were able to achieve elimination through that with a month of such measures.

“I am not suggesting that is necessarily possible now in Victoria with the number of cases but I would suggest that stronger measures for a shorter period might be a preferable strategy to months and months of what we have got at the moment.”

Public health officials said young adults were the group with the highest infection rate in the state with 1,947 men and women aged between 20 and 29 testing positive.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews urged young people to stay at home.

He said: “This virus doesn’t just affect older people.

“Young, fit and otherwise healthy people are struggling to breathe.”

Victoria’s Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said: “This is not an older person’s disease.

“A quarter of infections we are seeing are young people in their 20s. People in their 60s only represent six per cent.

“This is a highly contagious virus that can strike anyone in our community regardless of their age, regardless of their circumstances.”

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Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has cut short an interstate tour on to help deal with a “very complex” coronavirus outbreak in care homes in Melbourne, the epicentre of a second wave of infection that has alarmed health officials.

He said: “You have a combination of the community transmission which is widespread in Melbourne finding its way into many facilities, and in particular it has found its way into the aged care workforce.”

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