The South Australian government has imposed a six-day “circuit breaker” lockdown from midnight on Wednesday in an attempt to halt a highly contagious outbreak of coronavirus linked to a citizen who returned from the UK.
Australia closed its border to international visitors in March, but citizens and permanent residents have been allowed to return home if they quarantine for 14 days.
South Australian Premier Steven Marshall said “swift” action was required, as the identified strain of the virus is believed to be “highly contagious with a short incubation period and limited symptoms.” The authorities warned that this means it can take 24 hours or less for a newly infected person to become infectious and spread the virus.
The state discovered 36 cases of coronavirus in Adelaide after the cluster emerged on Sunday, with these being the first community cases reported in six months. In response, people must stay at home and can’t leave even for exercise, masks will be mandatory at all times in public, all schools and universities will be closed, except for children of essential workers, shops, restaurants, cafes and pubs will be closed, and there is a ban on regional travel.
Marshall told reporters at a press conference that “There is no second chance to stop a second wave. We are at a critical point, but we will get through this.”
While there are concerns about the potential rapid spread of the new virus strain, Professor Peter Collignon, an infectious-diseases physician and microbiologist at Canberra Hospital, tried to reassure the public that “it may be different to what has been prevalent in Australia, but it isn’t any more deadly or contagious.”
As South Australia goes into lockdown, Western Australia has announced a hard border closure with the region, and other areas put border restrictions and screening requirements in place, such as temperature and symptom checks, as well as isolating and testing if necessary, to limit the potential spread of the virus.
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