On Sunday (May 30), Australia’s Victoria state reported five new local COVID-19 cases, including a worker at a Melbourne elderly care home where not all of the residents have been vaccinated.
The illnesses on the third day of a week-long lockdown bring the total number of infections in the latest cluster to 40, which began with a returning foreign tourist who tested positive after leaving a quarantine accommodation.
At a press conference, Victoria’s acting premier, James Merlino, stated that 70% of the traveller’s close contacts had tested negative for the coronavirus.
“But it is true to say that this remains a day-by-day proposition,” Merlino said.
The case at the aged care facility was of an unknown origin, health authorities said, and residents have been confined to their rooms. More than half of the residents and about a third of the staff have been vaccinated.
On Thursday night, Victoria went into lockdown, the state’s fourth since the epidemic began, mandating residents to stay at home save for vital employment, healthcare, immunization, shopping, and two hours of outside exercise.
Merlino announced a AUD$250 million (US$193 million) governmental assistance plan for 90,000 companies affected by the lockout on Sunday. He also chastised Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s federal government for failing to assist.
“We asked multiple times, multiple times, for the federal government to support workers during this period and the unrelenting answer has been ‘No’,” Merlino said.
The outbreak has spurred people to get vaccinated in Victoria, following weeks of a slow inoculation roll-out and rising vaccine hesitancy because of the country’s success in virtually eliminating the COVID-19 virus.
The Labor administration in Victoria has chastised Morrison’s federal administration for the sluggish national rollout, claiming that a more effective program and better quarantine facilities may have avoided the need for a lockdown.
On Sunday, Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack, defended the federal government’s vaccination program.
“It is not a race, it has to be systematic,” McCormack told Sky News.