Victoria's Covid lockdown: Five reasons you can leave home

Melburnians could be facing yet another lockdown as health authorities weigh up the need for one. Source Getty

Victoria will enter a seven-day lockdown from midnight Thursday, in response to a worrying new outbreak of COVID-19 within the community.

The outbreak has been traced back to a man in his 30s who is thought to have been infected with the highly-infectious variant inside a quarantine hotel in neighbouring South Australia just hours before being allowed to go home, where he fell ill. Exercise and shopping are all limited to a five-kilometre radius from your home.

As first reported by Motorsport.com yesterday, six teams - Walkinshaw Andretti United, Erebus Motorsport, Team 18, Tickford Racing, Kelly Grove Racing and Blanchard Racing Team - are on standby to bolt from Melbourne to help ease concerns over border controls from other states. A third lockdown that lasted for five days in February was triggered by a cluster of 13 cases linked to hotel quarantine near Melbourne Airport.

Merlino said the Indian variant of the virus was moving faster than its contact tracers.

The state counted a further 12 locally-acquired cases of COVID-19 overnight, bringing the recent cluster to 26 people.

"If we had an alternative to hotel quarantine for this particular variant of concern, we would not be here today", Merlino said. It is unclear how exactly the virus got from Case A to this man, but he went on to infect at least 14 others.

"Restaurants, pubs, and cafes can provide takeaway only", Merlino said.

Researchers believe Case B could have left virus particles lingering in the air between the rooms - which were at the end of a corridor and thus less-well ventilated - before Case A inhaled them and was infected. Here in Victoria, we're seeing not only how quick it is, but how contagious it is as well.

Ontario moving forward with second doses of AstraZeneca vaccine
The provincial government remains optimistic as infection rates continue to fall and vaccination rates continue to rise. But if given sooner, they are less effective at preventing serious COVID-19 illness, at about 68 or 69 per cent.

Most of those cases are linked to a man in his 60s who fell sick on May 17. Sadly, we have one of those people in an ICU, on a ventilator, in not a very good way.

New Zealand's quarantine-free travel with Victoria was initially paused on Tuesday for 72 hours.

Anthony Albanese, leader of the opposition Labor Party, said Victoria "never should have been put in this situation" because the federal government should have fixed quarantine many months ago.

That figure should now increase with Merlino announcing on Thursday that every Victorian aged 40 to 49 would be immediately eligible for the Pfizer vaccine, while those aged over 50 would still be offered the AstraZeneca vaccine.

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.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison spoke to reporters this afternoon saying Victorians again faced a "challenge and a battle".

"If you are eligible to get vaccinated, make yourself a plan to do that today, to get it done", the state's health minister said.

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