MELBOURNE, Australia — Australian authorities were preparing to close the border between the country’s two largest states, as the country’s second-largest city, Melbourne, recorded two deaths and its highest-ever daily increase in infections on Monday.
The border between the states of New South Wales — home to Sydney — and Victoria — home to Melbourne — is due to be shut late Tuesday.
New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian was a critic of states that closed their borders to her state when Sydney had Australia’s largest number of coronavirus cases. But she said she changed her stance because the situation in Melbourne was unprecedented and indicated the pandemic was in a new phase.
The overwhelming majority of new infections detected in Melbourne in recent weeks were from community transmission. Everywhere else in Australia, the vast majority of people who tested positive for the virus were infected overseas or had been infected by a returned traveler, Berejiklian said.
“What is occurring in Victoria has not yet occurred anywhere else in Australia,” she said Monday. “It’s a new part of the pandemic and, as such, it requires a new type of response.”
The Victorian government locked down 36 of the most virus-prone Melbourne suburbs last week and at the weekend added another four suburbs because of the disease spread.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said of the 127 new cases recorded overnight, 53 were among 3,000 people who have been confined by police to their apartments in nine public housing blocks since Saturday.