Australian officials closed the border between the two most populous states in the country indefinitely, starting Tuesday, as part of unprecedented measures to contain the outbreak of the Coronavirus in Melbourne.
For the first time since the epidemic began, the border between Victoria and New South Wales will be closed, according to officials from both states.
The decision, announced Monday, marks the first time the border between Victoria and New South Wales has been closed for 100 years. The last time the two states were prevented from navigating was in 1919 during the Spanish flu pandemic.
Corona cases increased in Melbourne, the capital of Victoria, over the past days, prompting the authorities to enforce strict social separation orders in 30 suburbs, and to impose full public isolation on nine public residential towers.
The state, with a population of more than 6.6 million, recorded 127 new cases of Covid-19 disease, on Monday, in the biggest daily increase since the start of the pandemic.
There was also one death, which was the first death in Australia in more than two weeks, bringing the total number of deaths to 105.
"It is the right course of action at this time, in light of the challenges we face in containing this virus," Victoria state Prime Minister Daniel Andrews told reporters in Melbourne, when announcing the closure of the border starting at 11.59 pm local time on Tuesday.
He described the decision to close the state as "smart and right," according to Reuters.
But the move would likely be a blow to Australia's economic recovery as it entered its first recession in nearly 30 years. And Victoria's only other wild border with South Australia is already closed.
There is no timetable to reopen the borders that the army will guard to prevent unlawful crossings, said Gladys Periglian, New South Wales state prime minister.
After weeks of loosening restrictions to curb the spread of the virus, Melbourne has seen a significant increase in transmission among residents, prompting health officials to close some neighborhoods to separate them from the rest of the city until late July.
Sixteen of the new injuries were discovered in nine apartment towers, as 3,000 people were forced into their homes on Saturday, in the most stringent measure taken by the Australian authorities so far in response to the Covid-19 outbreak.
So far, only 53 infections have been recorded in buildings that contain a large number of migrants, but there are concerns that the virus may spread rapidly.
Community leaders have expressed concern about the nature of the "harsh" closures that saw the police deployed without prior warning, depriving some residents of their basic needs.
Andrews confirmed that food and toys have been provided to families, while providing them with psychological and health support, as officials seek a Covid-19 screening test for all residents in the coming days.
He said: "This is a huge task and the message for all horoscopes ... is that thousands of employees are doing their best to support those affected by the closure."
It is noteworthy that Australia recorded more than 8,500 cases of Coffed-19 and 105 deaths.
Most of the daily infections are now recorded in Melbourne, while restrictions have been eased in several other areas, after the outbreak was largely contained.