Australian authorities announced on Tuesday that they will impose a four-week mandatory lockdown in 10 areas of Melbourne following an exponential increase in COVID-19 cases due to fresh outbreaks in the city.
The stay-at-home orders will come into effect at 11.59 p.m. on Wednesday and will remain until July 29, Victoria's Premier Daniel Andrews said in a press conference.
Andrews also announced a judicial inquiry into the state's management of hotel quarantines after a number of cases between late May and early June were suspected to be linked to infection control protocol breaches, reports Efe news.
Andrews explained that a "significant number" of cases in northern Melbourne have been attributed, through genomic sequencing, to breaches of infection control protocols by staff members in hotel quarantine.
The state government will also ask Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison to divert international flights to Melbourne over the next two weeks to reduce the number of people in mandatory hotel quarantine although domestic flights will continue to operate.
The state authorities, which imposed the country's strictest restrictions at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, have conducted some 93,000 tests to detect the novel coronavirus among its inhabitants over the past five days, when it stepped up their testing plan, which includes health care workers going door-to-door to test the residents.
The authorities of Victoria, which have asked the central government and other states for reinforcement to tackle the crisis, have reported 71 new cases since Monday, a large part of them linked to the new outbreak, bringing the total number of infections since the start of the epidemic to 2,099.
Australia, which has managed to control the pan and has resumed a large part of its economic activities, has recorded more than 7,760 cases with 104 deaths.
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