Australia’s COVID-19 hotspot reports two new local cases

(Reuters) — Australia’s second most populous state Victoria on Sunday reported two new locally acquired COVID-19 cases, raising questions over how long a hard lockdown due to end on June 10 should continue in the state’s capital, Melbourne.

Two new local cases were reported, taking Victoria’s total to 72, including one recovered case, in the outbreak that began in late May after a man who had tested negative in hotel quarantine in Adelaide returned to Melbourne and tested positive.

Health authorities are particularly alarmed about the emergence of the highly infectious Delta variant this week. They have so far been unable to trace the source, sparking concern that the lockdown in Melbourne may need to be extended.

The Delta variant, which has been classified by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as among the four COVID-19 variants of concern due to evidence that it spreads more easily, likely caused the latest devastating outbreak in India.Australia has been relatively successful in controlling the virus with snap lockdowns, tight border restrictions and social distancing. Victoria has accounted for two-thirds of the more than 30,100 COVID-19 cases and 90% of the 910 deaths in the country since the pandemic began last year.