Australia blames Melbourne Covid spike on sports fans gathering illegally

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Australia’s Covid cases are seeing a rise in new infections reported from Melbourne as officials say people flouting rules to gather and watch a popular sporting event are to be blamed for the spike.

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The country is seeing its worst Covid outbreak since the start of the pandemic this month and posting more than 1,700 cases this week, with the provinces of New South Wales and Victoria being the worst-hit.

On Thursday, Victoria’s capital Melbourne reported a record rise in new Covid cases – nearly a third of the state’s 1,438 new infections.


State officials have said the new infections were “avoidable” and called the 50 per cent increase in cases since Wednesday a “big blow” despite the lockdown.

“Many of these cases were completely avoidable… I’m not trying to blame anyone, I’m just trying to explain because a lot of people will be scratching their heads – how did this escalate so fast? Maybe,” state Premier Daniel Andrews said during a media briefing.

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Melbourne, traditionally a football-obsessed city, saw sports fans gather inside their homes over the weekend to watch the Australian Football League (AFL) grand final on TV – a major event on the Australian sporting calendar. The match took place in Perth, Western Australia.

Jeroen Weimar, the commander of Victoria’s Covid-19 response, said time would tell whether the infection jump was “one big rogue day” or part of a serious new trend.

Referring to Melbourne’s lockdown, Mr Weimar said: “Today highlights the consequences of hundreds of people dropping their guard, dropping their guard for very understandable reasons and we are all fed up with it.”

“But this is a direct result of hundreds of decisions made on Friday and Saturday last week and the question now is how do we manage it going forward,” he said.

Australia’s Covid-affected state Victoria has been under lockdown for the past two months, however, it has not been successful in containing the infection. Half of the state’s population above 16 received their first dose, lower than the national average of 53 percent.

Additional reporting by agencies


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