Australia has placed millions back into lockdown following a spike of coronavirus cases.
The country has been among the world's most successful in containing its coronavirus outbreak – with the exception of Melbourne, its second-largest city.
The south-eastern state of Victoria had some of the nation's toughest pandemic measures and was among the most reluctant to lift restrictions when the worst of the outbreak seemed to have passed.
But as most of the country emerges from lockdown restrictions, in Melbourne, Victoria’s capital, the virus has resumed spreading at an alarming rate.
The border between Victoria and New South Wales, the busiest in the country, was closed overnight and around 4.9 million Melbourne residents will return to partial lockdown at midnight following a spike in COVID-19 cases in the city.
As New South Wales premier Gladys Berejiklian warned that the probability of COVID-19 spreading from Victoria to her state was "extremely high", Australia’s prime minister Scott Morrison said the country should now slow down the return of its citizens from abroad as it attempts to get to grips with the spike.
He said: "The rest of the country knows that the sacrifice that you're going through right now is not just for you and your own family, but it's for the broader Australian community.”
Victoria reported 134 new infections on Wednesday, down from the previous day's record 191 but well over the low single-digit daily increases of the country's other seven states and territories.
Victoria's premier Daniel Andrews said the entire city and some of its surrounding areas will be locked down under tougher restrictions than were imposed during the first shutdown, which started in March.
He added: “We are in many respects in a more precarious, challenging and potentially tragic position now than we were some months ago.”
In Melbourne, renewed lockdown measures will kick in at midnight for at least six weeks, closing down cafes, bars, restaurants and gyms, and confining residents to their homes except for essential business.
About 3,000 residents of nine public housing high-rise buildings were given just an hour's notice at the weekend before being prohibited from leaving their apartments for at least five days.
"The amount of police officers makes us feel like we're criminals," said a resident of one of the buildings, Nada Osman. "It's overwhelming. It's scary. It's like we're caged in.”
Forty suburbs that are virus hotspots have been locked down by postal code since last week, meaning businesses and households in some areas face restrictions while ones across the street do not.
New Zealand's national carrier has put a temporary hold on new bookings for flights into the country while the government tries to find enough quarantined hotel rooms for people returning home.
Air New Zealand says the hold will last for three weeks and it is also trying to better align flights with the hotel locations.
Fears of a second wave of coronavirus increased last week after three new COVID-19 cases in Australia’s national capital, Canberra, were reported.
Two of the infected people had returned from Melbourne last week, and the third was their housemate.
In Sydney, authorities were scrambling to track down 48 passengers who were allowed to disembark a flight from Melbourne overnight without being checked for COVID-19 symptoms.
Nationwide, Australia has reported around 9,000 COVID-19 cases and 106 deaths from the virus, according to Johns Hopkins.
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