With vaccination slow in Australia, the country’s second most populous state, Victoria, has entered custody as the government seeks to control an outbreak of the B.1.617.1 strain, known as the Indian variant and dubbed the Kappa variant by the World Health Organization. (WHO).
The fourth lockdown imposed on residents of Melbourne, the state capital, comes after a scenario in which life had returned to “almost normal”, according to the description of São Paulo architects Fabio Borges, 39, and Juliana Moraes, 38 years old, who live in the city.
“What happened was we had been without a case for several months, and then it was almost normal life. All I had to do was wear a mask on public transport and walk away. ” register with a QR code [no celular] in the restaurant and in the café, ”says Borges, who has lived there for almost three years.
Now, however, the government has registered a total of 60 new cases in the region, according to the latest data, and has warned that the variant is spreading faster.
Borges points out the difference in the management of the pandemic in Australia compared to Brazil. He points out that the establishment of containment is drawing attention in a scenario with a total of new cases, which is low compared to the situation in Brazil, which is currently officially registering a moving average of over 60,000 cases. daily reports of Covid-19.
“As it has been reset [o número de casos], the government is on top not to lose control. A case arises and they do something to prevent it from spreading, “he said, which supports the restrictive measure to control transmission.
The government declared lockdown statewide on May 27, after registering its first cases in nearly three months. Now, a week later, he has extended Melbourne’s lockdown period, with minor changes, until June 10.
“I know this is not the news everyone wants to hear, but given the cases we have (…) the government had no choice,” Acting Prime Minister James Merlino said . “If we don’t do that [lockdown], this thing will escape. This variant of worry will get out of hand and people will die. “
Residents of Melbourne are now required to stay at home, except for trips for essential work, shopping, exercise, medical care or to be vaccinated against Covid-19.
Outside the state capital, restrictions will be relaxed, with limited outdoor meetings and restaurants reopening.
However, Merlino warned people to be cautious and said the government has tracked more than 350 locations where people may have been exposed to the virus.
Borges and Moraes, for example, received an SMS alert from the government to verify the list of places and times when infected people crossed the area where they live to see if they could have met.
The current outbreak has started, officials said, with a traveler who was diagnosed days after his quarantine ended in South Australia.
“Nobody, nobody wants to repeat last winter,” said Merlino, referring to Melbourne’s second wave last year, which caused more than 90% of deaths in the country.
The state has favored a lockdown of nearly three months to bring the case rate to zero.
The new epidemic in Victoria draws attention to the low level of vaccination among Australians – a task that is the responsibility of the federal government.
About 15% of the Australian population has received at least one dose of the vaccine, which places the country among the 100 most vaccinated, according to the ranking by Our World in Data. Australia ranks 106th out of 215 countries, according to data as of June 1. The rate of people fully vaccinated in Australia is 2%.
Borges and Moraes say that while they understand and support the need for containment, they regret the pace of vaccination.
“You have to open and close until everyone is vaccinated. I think that’s the intention. But it’s hard to see why they don’t speed up the vaccine,” Borges explains.
Moraes adds: “The feeling is this: there is the vaccine, we didn’t have to go through that right now.”
The couple report a feeling that the country’s control of the pandemic appears to have led some Australians to wait less for vaccination than in other countries.
“It’s a different reality here. In Brazil, everyone knows someone who has passed away. Here, no. The person has no deceased family members or friends or a close case. She is calm, ne sees no cases and hears about the reaction to the vaccine, “he added. he said Borges.
Supply shortages and delivery issues have been reported to be responsible for the delays. And while steps have been taken to speed up the program – such as setting up mass vaccination centers and investing in local production – the Australian government is seeing its success in the fight against Covid-19 hampered by its effort. slow vaccination.
The performance of vaccination in Australia contrasts, at least so far, with the handling of the pandemic in other aspects of the country. Australia has largely avoided the level of Covid deaths seen in other developed countries due to a strict system of rapid blockade, border controls and restrictions on movement.