SYDNEY • South Australia yesterday declared a six-day lockdown to stamp out what the state premier described as a highly contagious outbreak of the coronavirus disease that officials linked to a returned traveller from Britain.
Most businesses will close except for some food outlets, and people will be largely confined to their homes, as the state tries to avoid a more severe outbreak like the one that all but shuttered neighbouring Victoria for more than 100 days.
"We need this circuit breaker, this community pause," South Australian Premier Steven Marshall told the media yesterday. "We are going hard and we are going early. Time is of the essence and we must act swiftly and decisively."
The southern state, home to just under 1.8 million people, reported two new cases yesterday, taking the total to 22. The cluster started to emerge at the weekend, representing the first serious signs of community transmission in South Australia since mid-April.
While the case numbers remain modest, Mr Marshall said the state needed to act quickly because the identified virus strain was "highly contagious with short incubation period and limited symptoms".
The authorities said yesterday that a hotel cleaner contracted the virus from a quarantined returned traveller from Britain.
The cleaner then spread the virus to her extended family in Adelaide, the state's capital city.
It was taking 24 hours or less for a newly infected person to become infectious to others, the authorities said.
The lockdown, to take effect from midnight yesterday, will mean people will be restricted from going outside of their homes, with only one person per household allowed to leave each day, but for only specific purposes.
Masks will be required in all areas outside of the home.
All schools, takeaway food outlets, pubs, cafes and universities will be closed, along with the construction industry, which has been allowed to operate during past lockdowns in Australia.
Elsewhere, Victoria state, which was the epicentre of Australia's nearly 28,000 cases until last month, clocked its 19th straight day of zero new cases. New South Wales, of which Sydney is the capital city, reported zero local and seven imported cases.