Home / World News / Coronavirus disaster: Melbourne in lockdown for AFL Grand Final while Sydney eases restrictions

Coronavirus disaster: Melbourne in lockdown for AFL Grand Final while Sydney eases restrictions

Melbourne and Sydney are Australia’s two biggest cities but this weekend illustrates how different their respective experience of the coronavirus has been.

The Victorian capital would normally be gearing up for the AFL Grand Final but with the match being played in Queensland and people restricted to their own living rooms, many will be feeling 2020 has reached another historic low.

Meanwhile, Sydney has recorded no new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 as more people are permitted to come together for worship, in hospitality venues and outside at gatherings.

COVID testing blitz for parts of Melbourne

All staff and students from two schools in northeast Melbourne have been told to immediately get tested for COVID-19 after the emergence of further cases.

Victoria on Saturday reported seven new cases of coronavirus, four of them in suburban Preston and one is a student from East Preston Islamic College.

The results have prompted health authorities to direct all staff and students from the college, and from nearby Croxton School, to get tested and self isolate, even if they aren’t experiencing symptoms.

Both schools will be closed for the next fortnight.

Saturday’s statistics included confirmation of 10 cases in the two weeks up to Wednesday which have a mystery source.

The average number of daily cases in the fortnight up to Friday was five for metropolitan Melbourne and 0.2 in regional Victoria.

A woman holds up a sign at a protest calling on the end to lockdown restrictions in Victoria.
Camera IconA woman holds up a sign at a protest calling on the end to lockdown restrictions in Victoria. Credit: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

Already some 800 residents in Melbourne’s northern suburbs have been isolating because of the school outbreak.

Warnings have been circulated to workers, including taxi drivers, who might have visited the area.

“Over 22,000 drivers were sent text messages and emails to remind them to get tested,” the health department said on Saturday.

Further north, a number of secondary contacts at Sirius College in Broadmeadows and Ilim College are being tested after they were linked to separate close contacts of a confirmed case.

The small surge in cases may threaten the further easing of restrictions planned for Sunday.

Premier Daniel Andrews on Friday said the state was well placed to relax more rules.

The state’s death toll remained at 817 on Saturday and the national figure at 905, with only one death in the past week.

“We are confident in where things are at the moment,” Mr Andrews said.

“The strategy is working, the trend is with us, the numbers are falling and that is a very good thing.”

No new NSW local cases, restrictions ease

There were no new local cases in the state in the 24 hours to 8pm on Friday, NSW Health said in a statement, while five new cases were uncovered in travellers in hotel quarantine.

The total of five cases comes from almost 13,000 tests, prompting another appeal from NSW Health for the state’s residents to seek testing if they feel unwell.

“NSW Health continues to appeal to the community to come forward for testing right away if anyone has even the mildest of symptoms like a runny nose or scratchy throat, cough, fever or other symptoms that could be COVID-19,” Dr Stephen Corbett said in a statement.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian has also urged more people to wear masks on public transport.

It’s the second consecutive 24-hour period in which NSW recorded no new locally- acquired virus cases, and comes as the state government from this weekend eases some restrictions.

People are seen at Icebergs, Bondi Beach in Australia.
Camera IconPeople are seen at Icebergs, Bondi Beach in Australia. Credit: Jenny Evans/Getty Images

Up to 30 people are now allowed to gather outdoors, group bookings at hospitality venues have been extended from 10 to 30 people and up to 300 are allowed at places of worship.

Protesters can also gather en masse, with up to 500 people allowed to convene outdoors.

Staffing regulations at gyms across NSW have also been relaxed, with a safety marshal only required when more than 20 people are working out.

However, with severe thunderstorms and rainfall forecast throughout much of the state, the larger outdoor gatherings may be held off for another week.

A coronavirus alert was earlier this week issued for anyone who attended the Bathurst 1000 motor race last weekend after traces of the virus were found in the city’s sewage.

NSW Health urged residents and visitors to Bathurst to get tested even if they had mild symptoms, and to remain in isolation until test results came back.

No COVID-19 patients in NSW are currently in intensive care.

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