A lockdown in Victoria State, Australia, follows a variant-fueled outbreak.

The state of Victoria, Australia, announced a seven-day lockdown Thursday night to prevent a coronavirus outbreak in the northern suburban area of ​​Melbourne, the country’s second most populous city after Sydney.

After nearly three months without a new infection, state health officials have detected 26 cases in the Melbourne-area cluster. The outbreak is believed to have started when a man was infected during a 14-day hotel quarantine service in the city of Adelaide, then traveled to Melbourne, where he tested positive for the virus.

Officials said more than 10,000 primary and secondary contacts had been identified, as they ran to locate contacts at dozens of sites where people may have been exposed. Officials said Virus roaming in Melbourne region Was the first discovered version in India.

Acting Premier of Victoria James Merlino said, “In the last day, we have seen more evidence that we are dealing with a highly contagious strain of the virus, a type of anxiety that is going faster than our records.” ” Told reporters on Thursday morning.

Australia has ended community transmission of the virus, but several smaller outbreaks this year have prompted cities and states to implement temporary lockdowns. Mr Merlino said the outbreak, the largest in recent months, was partly the result of a sluggish vaccination campaign that has left a large section of Australians exposed to new strains of the virus. Less than 2 percent of Australia’s 25 million people have been fully vaccinated.

“If more people are vaccinated then we can face very different circumstances,” he said. “This is a fact.”

Others criticized the Australian government for failing to implement an effective quarantine system and relying on hotels for oncoming travelers.

In a report released this week, officials said the first person diagnosed in Melbourne was likely to be infected with the virus. When he and another infected guest opened the doors to his hotel room Within minutes of each other, the virus is allowed to spread by aerosol transmission between their rooms.

“This is the 17th outbreak of hotel quarantine in the last six months,” opposition Health Minister Mark Butler told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on Thursday. “We are dealing with these outbreaks almost every week or two at this time.”

Mr Butler said the Prime Minister of Australia, Scott Morrison, had failed to heed the advice of experts who called on the government to establish “quarantine facilities dedicated to relieve the pressure of hotels built for tourism” did.

Last year, after an infection in a quarantine hotel caused an outbreak in the state, Melbourne’s five million residents faced one of the world’s longest lockdowns lasting 111 days.

Under lockdown, Victorians are prohibited from leaving their homes in addition to shop, work, exercise, caring for others or getting vaccinated.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Mr Morrison warned that the lockdown was a stark reminder of how fast the virus could revive.

“There is no certainty, no guarantee, in a global pandemic, and against a virus, such an insidious virus,” he said.

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