COVID-19 infections have set a new record in the Australian state of Victoria. Officials have blamed rule-breakers for the fresh spurt in cases.
More than 1,400 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 were reported in Victoria on Thursday. Five more people have died.
The numbers have risen despite some of Australia’s strict stay-at-home orders. Melbourne, the capital of the Victorian state, has become the third most locked down city in the world according to the city’s mayor. Residents have been under lockdown for more than 235 days since the pandemic began. There is a ban on going from house to house.
Victorian officials have said illegal gatherings and house parties over the public holiday long weekend last weekend in September were behind the sharp rise in COVID-19 infections in the state. Officials also said many people had ignored lockdown instructions to stay with friends and family to watch the Australian Rules football Grand Final on television, one of the country’s most popular sporting events.
Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said that when rules are broken, infections increase.
“They go up fast, of course, if people don’t follow the rules,” he said. “If people go to visit each other in their homes they grow faster. This is not a feeling of guilt. If people keep meeting each other in their homes, they will bring the virus with them, they will spread the virus. Many of these cases were completely avoidable. “
A recently discovered delta variant cluster is causing concern in the state of Queensland, while neighboring New South Wales reported 941 new infections and six deaths on Thursday.
Millions of Australians are in lockdown in Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra and other parts of eastern Australia.
Despite the rise in cases, officials are pushing for plans to ease the lockdown as vaccination rates rise.
In New South Wales, the lockdown restrictions for fully immunized residents will end when rates reach 70%. They are currently at 64%.
Federal officials have said Australia’s international borders, which have been closed to most foreign nationals since March 2020, should reopen by Christmas.
A total of 102,700 coronavirus cases have been detected in Australia since the pandemic began, killing 1,278.