Australia’s second-largest city of Melbourne started the first day of a six-week complete shutdown on Thursday, with the closure of most shops and businesses creating new fears of food shortages as the authorities battle a second wave of coronavirus infections. Shops were shut down and the streets were abandoned in the city of about 5 million residents, the capital of the state of Victoria, which recorded 471 new cases of COVID-19 and eight deaths in the last 24 hours.
Approximately 20,000 COVID-19 cases and 255 fatalities have now been registered in Australia, far less than many other developed nations. Australia had previously estimated that unemployment would hit a peak of 9.25% this year, with the country going through its first recession in three decades.
After the early closing of its external borders, the closing of cities and the start of a mass virus testing program, Australia had reopened in June with single-digit cases on a regular basis. Yet secret transmissions between workers working in quarantine centers led to broader community transmissions in Victoria, which has registered triple-digit new cases for weeks. Victoria now has the majority of the country’s infections, with more than 13,000 recorded cases.