The Australian city of Brisbane will go through another three-day lockdown to curb a coronavirus outbreak that has escalated to seven cases.
The lockdown in Queensland's state capital, which has a population of over two million people, will begin Monday, 5 p.m. local time (06:00 GMT). In January, the city was also forced to shut down for three days due to a single case.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said that the discovery of four more local cases, reported on Monday, indicated "more community transmission."
The lockdown will affect the Greater Brisbane area, which comprises the councils of Brisbane, Logan, Moreton Bay, Ipswich, and Redlands. People will be allowed to leave their homes only for four essential reasons, as in past lockdowns: exercise, shopping, necessary jobs, and caregiving. Schools and offices, as well as non-essential businesses and utilities, will be suspended.
Since the pandemic started, Australia has recorded 909 deaths and about 29,200 cases, a figure much smaller than that of many other countries. It is also in the early stages of vaccine dissemination.
The country has witnessed sporadic outbreaks over the past year, with the most significant happening in Melbourne last July, resulting in a harsh lockdown that lasted nearly four months.
Lockdowns have proven to be an effective health measure, but the unpredictability of city shutdowns has left a large economic toll, according to analysts.
Domestic tourism in Australia has been especially hit hard, with states often closing their borders to people from identified hotspots. Interstate travel to and from Brisbane will be prohibited until the area is no longer listed as a virus hotspot.
The Brisbane outbreak, which was first reported on Saturday, is Australia's first cluster of community transmissions in nearly a month. Health authorities are still investigating how the virus got into the community, although they believe it is linked to a hospital doctor who was infectious in mid-March.