Aus PM vows lockdown support for 2nd-most populous state

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Australia's second largest city past year underwent a second wave of infections that peaked at 725 new cases in a single August day at a time when community spread had been virtually eliminated elsewhere in the country.

There are no new cases of Covid in the community in New Zealand today and just one new case to report in recent returnees in managed isolation facilities since the Ministry's last update yesterday.

Victorian Deputy Premier James Merlino told reporters the state was dealing with a "highly infectious" strain of the virus, with the time between catching it and passing it on "faster than ever".

The state's contact tracers have identified more than 10,000 primary or secondary contacts who will need to isolate.

"Our public health experts' primary concern is how fast this variant is moving".

Stay with us for developments.

The new Melbourne cluster was found after a traveler from India became infected while in hotel quarantine in South Australia state earlier this month.

So far, more than 70 exposure sites have been confirmed, with nine new locations reported overnight, including at places like football venues and nightclubs.

"That is not a criticism, it is just a fact, we have had breaches in hotel quarantine right around our country".

The number of positive Covid-19 case numbers in Melbourne continues to rise and was at 34 this afternoon, according to Health Victoria.

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Supermarkets, food stores, petrol stations, banks, bottle shops and pharmacies are considered essential, while other retail stores can provide click and collect.

Most of those cases are linked to a man in his 60s who fell sick on May 17.

Amid fears the virus could quickly spread out of control, Victoria declared a snap seven-day lockdown to break the chain of transmission.

The "circuit-breaker" lockdown is created to allow contact tracers to get on top of cases, with residents permitted to leave home only for essential reasons including getting vaccinated. Those in Greater Melbourne must wear a face mask indoors.

One helpful effect of the outbreak is that there has been an upsurge in Victorians getting vaccinated with 15, 858 people receiving their jab on Tuesday, whereas the previous average daily uptake was less than 6, 300.

Health Minister Greg Hunt added that first vaccine doses were now being delivered to the remaining aged care homes in Victoria, where hundreds died when the virus swept through the facilities previous year.

Merlino said from tomorrow, vaccinations at state sites would be expanded to include residents over the age of 40, who will be eligible to receive the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccines.

"My message to those Victorians: If you're eligible, get vaccinated".

"If we had the vaccine, the Commonwealth's vaccine programme effectively rolled out, we may well not be here today".

"The next seven days in Victoria will be very challenging. once again we will come through".

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