Australia's Melbourne returns to lockdown

Melbourne city and some other towns in Australia's Victoria state have been ordered back into lockdown for six weeks starting Wednesday after the state reported 191 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, the highest spike in its daily infection count.

Residents have been advised against leaving their homes apart for four activities -- purchasing essential items, medical care or caregiving, exercise and study/work.

"The public health teams have advised me to reimpose stage 3 stay-at-home restrictions. Staying at home, except for the four reasons to leave, effective from midnight tomorrow night for a period of six weeks," Premier of Victoria Daniel Andrews said on Tuesday.

"There is simply no alternative other than thousands and thousands of cases and potentially more. Many, many people in hospital and the inevitable tragedy that will come from that," he said.

The coronavirus death toll stands at 22 in Victoria with 722 active cases. No new death was reported in the last 24 hours.

Andrews said 35 people were recovering in hospitals, while nine were in serious condition, admitted in intensive care units.

"With case rates at these levels, it is simply impossible to have enough contract tracing staff, to have enough physical resources," the premier said, explaining the need for lockdown.

Andrews said the people were acting as if the pandemic was over, which was "not the answer, (but) part of the problem".

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