Melbourne, Australia’s second-biggest city, will be locked down for six weeks after a record number of daily coronavirus cases, officials said on Tuesday.
The state of Victoria reported 191 new cases on Tuesday, an “unsustainably” high number, said Daniel Andrews, the state’s premier. Most of the cases were in Melbourne, a city of 4.9 million people and the capital of Victoria.
“Ultimately we have to take this as seriously as we take bushfire,” Mr. Andrews said. “This is binary. It is life and death.”
Starting late Wednesday night, residents will be allowed to leave their homes only for essential work, shopping and exercise. Another regional area, Mitchell Shire, will also be locked down.
Australia has had a comparatively small outbreak, with fewer than 8,600 reported cases and only 106 deaths. But emerging hot spots in Melbourne in recent weeks have alarmed officials, who locked down 300,000 people in suburban neighborhoods last week. They also immediately quarantined 3,000 residents of public housing towers on Saturday after coronavirus infections were found in 12 households.
Other states have also reacted to the flare-up. New South Wales, Australia’s most populous state, will close its border with Victoria on Wednesday and send police and military officers to patrol crossings. South Australia, which shares a border with Victoria, said it would bar Victorian travelers at midnight Wednesday.
Returning citizens have also brought cases to New Zealand in recent weeks, and the country’s airline, Air New Zealand, temporarily froze ticket sales for three weeks on Tuesday. The move, requested by the government, will ensure the country has space to quarantine all travelers, the airline said in a statement. Like Australia, New Zealand has had a relatively small outbreak, with 1,536 reported cases and 22 deaths.