ADELAIDE, Australia — South Australia has entered its first full day of lockdown as the list of potential Covid-19 exposure sites linked to a new cluster of cases continues to grow.
More than 35 sites have now been listed across metropolitan Adelaide—the state capital—with more likely in the coming days.
They include a number of major shopping centers and at least two schools along with banks, hardware stores, cafes, and chemists.
The outbreak has grown to at least five confirmed infections, with all of those currently linked to an 81-year-old man who came to Australia recently from Argentina.
During the week-long lockdown South Australians will only be allowed out for five reasons: to provide essential care, to seek medical assistance, to buy essential food and other goods, for essential work, or to exercise for up to 2.5 hours.
They must also wear masks when outside their homes.
Schools have closed along with most retail outlets and all construction work has ceased.
Premier Steven Marshall said it was vital for South Australia to “go hard and go early” to have any chance of containing the outbreak now confirmed to involve the Delta variant of the disease.
“We hate putting these restrictions in place, but we have one chance to get this right,” the premier said.
“We are moving as quickly as we can to slow and stop the spread of this cluster.”
The lockdown has prompted a federal government declaration of a Covid-19 hotspot for metropolitan Adelaide, the Adelaide Hills, and for Gawler, north of the city.
That will trigger disaster payments of up to AU$600 ($438.50) a week for people who lose more than 20 hours of work.
“South Australians should go into this week knowing that the state is acting early and decisively to get on top of this outbreak,” said Simon Birmingham, federal Finance Minister.
“This is a really tough time for so many South Australians, but none more so than those are who are losing casual shifts, losing part-time jobs, and are going to feel some financial stress.”
The outbreak has already plunged thousands of people into quarantine, with more expected to be forced into 14 days of isolation.
The state’s Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier urged everyone, especially those in quarantine, to stay home.
“The virus doesn’t have legs, it moves around when people move around,” she said.
“So if people stay put we will be able to get on top of it.”
Other jurisdictions have acted swiftly to put restrictions on people coming from South Australia with the island state of Tasmania and Queensland (northeastern neighbor state) closing their borders and Western Australia and the Northern Territory requiring people to quarantine.
(Edited by Saptak Datta and Krishna Kakani)
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