After several months without any locally acquired coronavirus case, South Australia on Monday recorded a significant spike in new infections, breaking the country’s successful streak of community containment.
The state of around 1.7 million people recorded 14 new COVID-19 infections on Monday, up from just three the day before.
The cluster is thought to have spread from a hotel quarantine worker who passed the virus on to family members in the state’s capital Adelaide, according to health officials.
“It is a very dangerous situation that we’re in here in South Australia at the moment, and it’s really going to require the cooperation of every single citizen for us to get on top of this,’’ state premier Steven Marshall told local radio 5AA on Monday.
In response, all of Australia’s other states and the Northern Territory, apart from the most populous state of New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory, home to Canberra – have re-introduced travel restrictions on South Australia, declaring it a coronavirus hotspot.
Local media reported passengers arriving from South Australia being in tears when told they would have to go into a 14-day quarantine when touching down in Western Australia Monday morning.
Last week, Australia recorded three consecutive days of zero new locally acquired infections across the country, at a time when cases soared across Europe and the United States.
The nation of around 25 million people has recorded just over 27,700 coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic, significantly fewer per capita than most developed countries.
The country has taken a lockdown approach, alongside rigorous testing and tracing to contain the virus.