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".
"We know we are on the cusp of something very, very bad if we don't take these steps today. If we were to fail to take those steps, then it won't be a couple of hundred cases per day it will be many more than that and it will quickly spiral well and truly out of control," he said.
"We have to be realistic about the circumstances that we confront. We have to be clear with each other, that this is not over. And pretending that it is because we all want it to be over, is not the answer," Andrews said.
Meanwhile, New South Wales is set to close its border with Victoria for the first time in 100 years.
Starting Tuesday midnight, the police will patrol the 55 border crossings between the two states with restrictions in place for residents of Melbourne and its surroundings
The final hours of the open border are only for Victoria residents. Hundreds of Defence personnel will also be patrolling the state's northern border.
Queensland has already announced closing its borders with Victoria last week while South Australia has announced a mandatory 14-day quarantine for anyone returning from Victoria.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk had said, "We have had to make tough decisions for the health and well being of Queenslanders, which includes closing our borders."
The coronavirus, which first surfaced in China's Wuhan city, has claimed 106 lives with 8,755 confirmed cases in Australia so far.