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Australia Melbourne marks 200 days of COVID-19 lockdowns since the pandemic began

22:46  03 september  2021
22:46  03 september  2021 Source:   abc.net.au

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Thursday night marked an unpleasant milestone for Melburnians — the 200th day lived under lockdown restrictions.

For many of us, the sequence of those days is just a fuzzy memory, smudged into the 17-month pandemic rollercoaster we've endured.

Here's how the city's six lockdowns unfolded.

Lockdown One: 43 days

BEGAN: March 30, 11:59pm

ENDED: May 12, 11:59pm

The local cases recorded each day

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It's here that we got our first taste of the restrictions that have defined 2020 and 2021.

But it's worth noting that these settings were not referred to as a "lockdown" at the time.

Instead, we were under "stay-at-home" orders, distinct from the much harsher restrictions that would later be used to defeat the city's second wave of infections.

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That distinction has become less important to many people over time, with a common acceptance that we're now in lockdown six — making this period of time the first.

We entered the lockdown on March 30, when 46 locally acquired cases were detected.

When we emerged more than a month later, the number of new local infections had been driven down to just five.

But it was just a short-lived victory, before the devastating second wave would put chronic underfunding in public health, hotel quarantine leaks and infection control gaps in the spotlight.

Lockdown Two: 111 days

BEGAN: July 8, 11:59pm

ENDED: October 27, 11:59pm

The local cases recorded each day

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Today, it's hard to imagine any Australian tier of government holding off entering lockdown if daily cases were above 100, especially given the Delta variant.

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But when metropolitan Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire re-entered lockdown on July 8, 2020, the state recorded 149 new local cases.

Premier Daniel Andrews described Victoria as being "on the cusp of something very, very bad" if no action was taken.

The city-wide lockdown came after authorities realised the targeted lockdown of specific postcodes with high caseloads put in place about a week earlier would not be enough.

Through a well-documented and agonising 111 days, the city was in lockdown, slowly driving down cases which peaked at 687 new infections on August 4.

If you're thinking "hang on, I'm sure it went above 700", you're not wrong.

The figure reported that day was 725, but duplicated cases were appearing regularly in the figures as health authorities battled to find better ways to manage the data.

Victoria exited the second, traumatic lockdown with hard lessons learnt and a sharpened contact-tracing and outbreak response.

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Lockdown Three: Five days

BEGAN: February 12, 11:59pm

ENDED: February 17, 11:59pm

The local cases recorded each day

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For many Melburnians, November to January almost started to feel normal, as the state enjoyed a streak of days without new infections.

The sun was out and the state had managed to quell a cluster at Black Rock without a lockdown — boosting confidence in Victoria's contact-tracing team.

A fairly tight lid was kept on community transmission until mid-February, when the state was rocked by an outbreak of the Alpha strain of the virus from the Holiday Inn quarantine hotel at Melbourne Airport.

At the time, the Premier described a variant moving at unprecedented "velocity".

The outbreak and the infection control breaches behind it intensified the push to move away from hotels as quarantine facilities in favour of purpose-built facilities.

But this was the shortest of the state's lockdowns, with cases pulled up before the daily figure climbed above five.

Lockdown Four: 14 days

BEGAN: May 27, 11:59pm

ENDED: June 10, 11:59pm

The local cases recorded each day

War of words between Ray Hadley and Alan Jones over Sydney Covid rules

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Another run of several months without community transmission screeched to a halt at the end of May, when authorities called a lockdown in response to a fast-moving outbreak in the city's north.

In the days that followed, contact tracers discovered the outbreak was comprised of two separate clusters.

One, the Kappa variant, had spread from South Australian hotel quarantine.

The other, the Delta variant, was traced back to a leak from Victoria's hotel quarantine system.

Again, authorities identified the variants were spreading more rapidly than previous strains.

It prompted an initial one-week lockdown to be extended for Melbourne, but restrictions eased on June 10, a day of zero new local cases.

Lockdown Five: 12 days

BEGAN: July 15, 11:59pm

ENDED: July 27, 11:59pm

The local cases recorded each day

After declaring its first victory over the Delta strain, Victoria began to open up and other states started letting us back in.

But just a month later, we were back into lockdown as 10 local cases were recorded on July 15, linked to the growing outbreak in New South Wales.

During this lockdown, we saw transmission at the MCG as well as more typical sites such as apartment complexes and hospitality venues.

The quick lockdown and the swift work of contact tracers managed to pull this outbreak up in just under a fortnight.

Mr Andrews said Victorians had a right to feel proud, but not "boastful" of their efforts to bring things under control.

But once again, it wasn't to last long.

Lockdown Six: 15 days and counting

BEGAN: August 5, 8:00pm

ENDS: ?

The local cases recorded each day

No sooner had we surfaced from lockdown five, the next one was upon us.

While we still don't know how this outbreak began, it's genomically linked to the strain devastating New South Wales.

Within days of detecting the first cases in this outbreak, authorities called a lockdown for the whole state.

While regional Victoria eased out of that lockdown days later, restrictions in Melbourne have only intensified as more mystery cases point to undetected chains of transmission running through the community.

This week, authorities have reintroduced the harshest of the measures used to defeat the second wave, including the controversial nightly curfew and the closure of public playgrounds.

While the Premier has spruiked the critical importance of vaccines as the long-term path out of heavy restrictions, for now, it's high rates of testing that will hopefully see the city defeat another wave and put its sixth lockdown behind it.

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Video: Sydney records deadliest day of COVID-19 pandemic, Melbourne lockdown extended (Reuters)

War of words between Ray Hadley and Alan Jones over Sydney Covid rules .
Jones has repeatedly criticised New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian during Sydney's coronavirus lockdown for enforcing strict public health orders to stop the spread of the virus. Last week, he used his Sky News segment to call for the pay of Australia's 'contemptible' politicians to be scrapped until they stopped implementing lockdowns. 'We are being run by an ignorant rabble who don't do any homework,' he said in another rant directed at Ms Berejiklian on Monday.

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This is interesting!