Panic buying in Victoria as entire state prepares for lockdown

A general view of the MCG after it was listed as an exposure site

The latest outbreak has intensified criticism of flawed quarantine facilities and a national vaccine rollout that, according to acting state Premier James Merlino, is "not where it should be".

"That number will continue to grow and change", he said.

Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said the variant was the same one identified in India and designated by the World Health Organization as a variant of concern. A returned traveller was infected with the strain, which Mr Merlino said was spreading "faster than we have ever recorded".

"Our contact tracers are identifying and locking down the first ring, second ring, and third ring within 24 hours".

"They have never ever worked as hard, as fast, and as effectively as they are right now".

All of those cases are linked, Merlino said.

"There's been opportunities to spread to people".

In Melbourne, tens of thousands joined lengthy queues to be tested for Covid-19, while others rushed to get jabbed as the state opened up mass vaccination centres to people aged 40-49 for the first time. "Of course that is not anything near what we have seen in other countries", he said.

"To put that in some perspective, the usual transmission is about five to six days - In some of these cases, within a day it's been transmitted".

Genomic testing has found the new infections are "closely linked" to a case from a few weeks ago that originated in South Australia.

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Dudich said she had not spoken to Protasevich , 26, and that her daughter had been in a relationship with him for less than six months.

The man, in his 60s, could be the possible "source case" of the Whittlesea outbreak, although a definitive link is yet to be established.

Merlino said it was essential to act decisively, saying "unless something drastic happens, this will become increasingly uncontrollable".

"It's not where we hoped it would be, it's not where it should be". Sadly, we have one of those people in an ICU, on a ventilator, in not a very good way.

The lockdown will be in place until June 3.

Schools across the state will close for the duration of the lockdown, as will non-essential retail stores, dining-in service at restaurants and cafes, pools, gyms, hairdressers, beauty services and cultural and entertainment venues such as cinemas, tourism and art galleries. All other students will move to remote learning. Those in Greater Melbourne must wear a face mask indoors.

Under the current rules, Victorians who are under the age of 50 can not yet get the shot.

Anyone with symptoms who had been in the wider Melbourne area since May 11 should also ring Healthline and arrange a test.

Researchers believe Case B could have left virus particles lingering in the air between the rooms - which were at the end of a corridor and thus less-well ventilated - before Case A inhaled them and was infected.

The fresh cluster of infections in Melbourne detected early this week swelled to 26 on Thursday after 12 new cases overnight, while the number of virus-exposed sites rose above 150.

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