Australia’s 3rd largest city enters lockdown as local cases grow

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SYDNEY, March 29 (Xinhua) — Australia’s third largest city of Brisbane will enter a three-day lockdown from 5:00 p.m. local time Monday as locally-acquired COVID-19 cases continued to grow with some cases’ origin unknown.

The state of Queensland, with Brisbane as the capital city, recorded on Monday four local cases and six cases from returned travelers in hotel quarantine out of 11,626 tests conducted in the past 24 hours, which made the active cases in the state to 73.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk told a press conference that among the four community transmission, two were linked to previous cases and two were under investigation. One of the two cases with unknown origin is believed to be a nurse from the Princess Alexandra Hospital where a doctor was tested positive earlier this month.

“What this said to us is the fact that there are now more community transmissions and these people have been out about in the community and that is of concern to Queensland Health and me,” she said.

“What this means for Greater Brisbane is that we will have to go into a three-day lockdown. This is the mutant strain detected in Britain. It is highly infectious.”

Under the new lockdown, residents in Greater Brisbane and anyone who has been in Brisbane, Logan, Moreton Bay, Ipswich or Redlands since March 20 must stay at home except for four reasons including buying essentials, working or studying if they cannot do either from home, exercising in local areas, and healthcare or to providing help, care or support.

As one of the local cases used to travel to Gladstone, north to Brisbane, the state government also tightened restrictions in other parts of the state, which will limit private gathering to 30 people and require masks wearing while indoors except at home.

Aged care, correctional centers, hospitals and disability service providers will close to visitors across the whole state. Schools will be closed from Tuesday.

Palaszczuk said the restrictions will be reviewed on Wednesday evening.

“We need to do this now to avoid a longer lockdown… This will also enable our health authorities to get on top of the contact tracing,” she said.

Queensland Chief Health Officer Dr. Jeannette Young said the new cases meant the department was now dealing with seven cases from the most recent cluster.

The neighboring state of New South Wales (NSW) was also on high alert because two new local cases of Queensland used to travel to the Byron Bay area in NSW and attended a number of venues during the past weekend before they went back to Queensland.

NSW health department said urgent investigations and contact tracing are underway, and health experts are assessing transmission risk in the Byron Bay area. Enditem

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