People wait in line to be tested for Covid-19 at Royal Perth Hospital in Perth, Australia. AFP
Gulf Today Report
The city of Perth has been locked down for five days after Western Australia state’s first case of local COVID-19 infection in almost 10 months.
About 2 million Australians begun their first full day of a strict coronavirus lockdown on Monday following the discovery of one case in the community in Perth, capital of Western Australia state, but no new cases have since been found, according to Reuters.
This followed a security guard who worked at a Perth quarantine hotel contracting a highly contagious British variant of the virus. Overseas travelers who arrive in Perth must isolate in hotel quarantine for 14 days.
A general view shows an empty restaurant in the normally busy Elizabeth Quay area in Perth. AFP
Authorities ordered a five-day lockdown of Perth after a security guard at a hotel used to quarantine people returning from overseas was found to have contracted the virus.
The state government said 66 people have been deemed close contacts of the unidentified guard and none of those already tested were infected.
“In total 13 close contacts have now tested negative and of those 11 high-risk contacts have been moved into hotel quarantine as an extra precaution,” Western Australia state Premier Mark McGowan told reporters in Perth.
Tests on the rest of the close contacts were expected to be completed on Monday, McGowan said.
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Australia has managed to largely contain its novel coronavirus epidemic - limiting cases to nearly 29,000 and deaths to 909 - with the sort of decisive action seen in Perth, and tight border controls.
A vaccine campaign is due to begin this month, which Prime Minister Scott Morrison said would cost at least A$6.3 billion ($4.8 billion).
Police officers hand out face masks to people wanting to be tested for Covid-19 at Royal Perth Hospital in Perth. AFP
Australia had already pledged to spend A$4.4 billion to acquire enough doses for its 26 million population, but Morrison said his government had set aside a further A$1.9 billion to pay for the roll-out.
“The strategy is backed by an initial allocation of around A$1.9 billion in new support for the vaccine roll-out. This is on top of more than $4.4 billion allocated for vaccines purchases,” Morrison said in a speech in Canberra.
Classifying the inoculation programme as his “first priority,” Morrison said the economy must now begin to wean itself off government spending.
Australia has pledged more than A$250 billion in stimulus, which has already begun to taper.
But Morrison said there was a limit to the support government could afford.
“We are not running a blank cheque budget,” Morrison said.
The infected man is a close contact of a 26-year-old male who tested positive on Friday. Another 18 close contacts of the first case are self-isolating and getting tested.
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