Fortunately for people in the affected areas, the risk of infection remains relatively low, and health authorities have responded quickly to relocate the virus.
Melbourne has specifically introduced intensive closure, tightening restrictions as more cases are reported this month.
Melbourne residents are no longer allowed to leave their homes unless it is a matter of grocery shopping, care, exercise or work. Cafes and restaurants that were allowed to reopen a few weeks ago have suspended regular services and now only offer delivery and departure options. All beauty services and entertainment venues are also closed.
“We talked about this virus being like a public health fire. By putting a ring around metropolitan Melbourne, we’re basically setting up a perimeter to protect regional Victorians,” said State Prime Minister Daniel Andrews.
“Clearly we are at the peak of our second wave and we cannot allow this virus to break through our communities.”
Online applications for permits to allow Victoria residents to travel on state lines began on Tuesday night, but the website crashed just 45 minutes after launching as 44,000 people applied, Australia’s national television ABC reported.
Melbourne’s response is similar to that that followed in China, which managed to get its domestic epidemic largely under control a few months ago and responded to new sites of infection with quick, albeit sometimes draconian action.
Hong Kong is currently considering returning to certain restrictions, after weeks of relaxation and a return to normalcy, and the government has urged people to be vigilant on caution around wearing face masks, social distance and public hygiene.
In comments that could apply equally to Hong Kong as well as to Australia, Andrews, the Victorian prime minister, said that “I think a sense of complacency sank into us as we let our frustrations improve.”
“I think everyone knows someone who hasn’t followed the rules the way they should have. I think each of us knows we have no choice so we are taking very, very difficult steps,” he added.
But what if you are in a country where taking basic steps, let alone difficult ones, is seen as fighting the virus as anathema to many people?
If nothing else, the experience of countries that had a pandemic under control indicates a huge danger that the U.S. will try to return to normalcy because the nation is still dealing First virus wave.