Australian officials on Sunday imposed a five-day lockdown on the city of Perth, the capital of Western Australia, after the state reported a single case of community transmission of the coronavirus, the first in almost 10 months.
Under the new restrictions, which last until Friday evening, about two million people in the city and surrounding areas can leave home only for essential reasons like exercise, medical needs and shopping for groceries. Restaurants, bars and gyms will shut and mask-wearing will be compulsory in public. Schools, which were scheduled to reopen this week after the term break, will remain closed.
“I know for many Western Australians, this is going to come as a shock,” Mark McGowan, the state’s premier, said at a news conference announcing the measures. The state has “crushed” the outbreak before, he said, but “we cannot forget how quickly this virus can spread, nor the devastation it can cause.”
The infected patient, a security guard at a quarantine hotel, developed symptoms on Thursday, Mr. McGowan said. One traveler at the hotel had tested positive for the more contagious virus variant that was first spotted in Britain.
Australia has been praised for its comparative success in handling the pandemic, reporting a total of 28,810 cases and 909 deaths, far fewer relative to its size than most other developed countries. It has moved aggressively to clamp down on new outbreaks, and has largely banned its citizens from leaving the country. New cases have been discovered mainly in returning travelers, who are strictly quarantined in hotels.
The city of Brisbane quickly imposed a three-day lockdown earlier this month after a cleaner who worked at a quarantine hotel there tested positive.
The country has reopened a travel bubble with neighboring New Zealand and has begun to allow domestic travel from state to state, though officials have not hesitated to close state borders against emerging outbreaks.
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