Australian state's 50% jump in COVID-19 blamed on sport fans

Australian state's 50% jump in COVID-19 blamed on sport fans


CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia’s Victoria state on Thursday reported a jump of more than 50% in daily COVID-19 cases, which authorities largely blame on Australian Rules Football parties last weekend that breached pandemic regulations.

State capital Melbourne traditionally hosts the annual grand final which the football-obsessed city celebrates with a long weekend.

Because of Melbourne's lockdown, two Melbourne teams played for the national premiership on Saturday in the coronavirus-free west coast city of Perth.

Contact tracers found a third of Victoria’s 1,438 new infections reported on Thursday had broken pandemic rules by attending social gatherings on the Friday public holiday and on game day, officials said.

Jeroen Weimar, commander of Victoria's COVID-19 response, said time would tell whether the infection jump was “one big rogue day” or part of a grave new trend.

“Today highlights the consequence of hundreds of people dropping their guards, dropping their guard for very understandable reasons and we’re all fed up with it,” Weimar said, referring to Melbourne’s lockdown.

“But this is a direct consequence of hundreds of decisions made on Friday and Saturday last week and the question now is how we manage this going forward,” he added.

Melbourne’s lockdown is set to end on Oct. 26 when 70% of the state’s population aged 16 and older is expected to be fully vaccinated. Residents are becoming increasingly frustrated by the city’s sixth lockdown of the pandemic.

Australia’s second-most populous city will overtake Argentine’s capital Buenos Aires next week as the city that has endured the longest lockdown in the world, Melbourne’s Herald-Sun newspaper has reported. Buenos Aires stay-at-home orders lasted 245...

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