An essential worker walks past a ‘Please Stay Home’ sign on the first day of a five-day lockdown implemented in the state of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia. File /Reuters
Australia on Friday reported its first locally acquired coronavirus case in more than a week after a 26-year-old man tested positive, prompting authorities to place restrictions on hospitals, retirement homes and disability centres.
The person who contracted the virus has been infectious for a week but stayed mostly isolated at home since Monday after developing symptoms, Queensland state Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said.
Visitors will be banned in hospitals and retirement homes in state capital Brisbane starting Friday as authorities urged the city’s residents to wear masks indoors and when using public transport.
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“I hope we don’t need to have more restrictions, but it just depends what unfolds over the next 24, 48 hours,” state Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young told reporters.
Health alerts have been issued for shopping centres, an Italian restaurant and supermarkets exposed to the virus as officials rushed to trace the source of the infection.
Snap lockdowns, social distancing rules and speedy contact tracing systems have helped Australia to contain fresh clusters. It has reported just over 29,200 cases and 909 deaths since the pandemic began.
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.
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.
More than 22,500 test results were conducted in the past 24 hours in Australia’s second most populous city Melbourne and authorities urged residents to get tested amid fears of community transmission from a worker at the Holiday Inn in the city.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt tweeted on Wednesday marked the 10th day of no community transmission of COVID-19 Australia wide, adding the country’s success comes at a time when global coronavirus cases have crossed 100 million with the death toll surpassing 2 million.
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