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Australia’s Victoria state reports 5 COVID-19 cases third day of lockdown

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FILE PHOTO: A woman walks past a “Stay Safe Melbourne” sign on the first day of a seven-day COVID-19 lockdown in Melbourne

(Updated: )

MELBOURNE: Australia’s Victoria state reported five new local COVID-19 cases on Sunday (May 30), including a worker at a Melbourne aged care facility where not all of the residents have been vaccinated.

The infections on the third day of a week-long lockdown raise the total to 40 in the latest cluster, which started with a returning overseas traveller who tested positive after leaving a quarantine hotel.

READ: Australia’s Victoria state to enter COVID-19 lockdown after ‘highly infectious’ outbreak

Victoria’s acting premier, James Merlino, said at a briefing that 70 per cent of the traveller’s close contacts have so far 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.

Victoria went into lockdown on Thursday night, the state’s fourth since the start of the pandemic, requiring people to stay at home except for essential work, healthcare, vaccination, shopping and two hours of outdoor exercise.

Merlino on Sunday announced a AUD$250 million (US$193 million) state support package for 90,000 businesses affected by the lockdown. He also criticised the federal government of Prime Minister Scott Morrison for not helping.

“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.

READ: COVID-19 – Singapore tightens border measures for travellers from Australia’s Victoria state

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.

Victoria’s Labor government has criticised Morrison’s federal government for the slow national roll-out, saying a more successful programme and better quarantine facilities might have prevented the need for a lockdown.

Deputy Prime Minister of Australia Michael McCormack defended the federal government’s vaccination policy on Sunday.

“It is not a race, it has to be systematic,” McCormack told Sky News television.

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