A region in Australia is returning to an early coronavirus pandemic days after a six-day blockade that began at midnight on Wednesday, stopping an entire community among a new virus cluster.
The state of South Australia blocked a “switch” in an attempt to eliminate the outbreak of COVID-19, which rose to 22 infections this week in the state capital of Adelaide. Strict measures have closed schools, universities, bars and cafes.
“We are going hard and leaving early,” Prime Minister Stephen Marshall said on Wednesday. “Time is of the essence.”
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Also, only one person from each household will have the right to leave the home every day – and only for specific reasons. Outdoor exercise is prohibited and wearing masks is mandatory.
In addition, restrictions require most factories to close nursing homes in order to block them, and to hold weddings and funerals.
“We have to act fast and decisively, we can’t wait to see how bad this is,” Marshall said.
The group of cases reportedly erupted after a cleaner in a quarantine hotel was exposed to the virus.
Officials are planning another eight days of restrictions after the blockade.
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The state of South Australia – which boasts about 1.7 million people – largely eliminated the transmission of the COVID-19 virus to the community after a nationwide blockade earlier this year.
“There is no second chance to stop the second wave,” Marshall said. “We are at a critical juncture, but we will overcome this.”
Australia is praised for tackling the pandemic, marking five months earlier this month without a new local case. As of Thursday, the country had registered 27,784 cases and 907 deaths.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.