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Blockage of the virus in South Australia begins amid hopes of curbing the outbreak

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Photograph Photograph: Federation Square has been seen free by humans since Melbourne, Australia, turned into a three-phase blockade as part of efforts to curb a coronavirus disease resuscitation (COVID-19) on July 23, 2020. REUTERS / Sandra Sanders

Sydney (Reuters) – One of Australia’s toughest blockades began in southern countries on Thursday with outdoor gatherings, weddings, funerals, ready meals all stopped as authorities try to quell a new coronavirus outbreak.

Images on social media showed empty streets in the morning in the South Australian capital Adelaide on the first day of the blockade. Last night, residents flocked to supermarkets to gather supplies.

The state, home to about 1.8 million people, has so far registered 23 cases from the current group. There were no new cases Thursday as 3,200 close contacts of those infected are already in quarantine, South Australia’s chief public health official Nicola Spurrier told a news conference.

Authorities on Wednesday imposed a six-day blockade to extinguish what the state prime minister described as a highly contagious outbreak of coronavirus that officials linked to a traveler returning from the UK.

Weve had to take this extreme action, this important intervention, to set up a circuit breaker to deal with the disease, South Australian Prime Minister Steven Marshall told national broadcaster ABC.

We have a particularly severe strain of the disease, which shows no symptoms for people getting infected, he added.

When asked if six days would suffice, Marshall said: I advised it would be time needed to eliminate those transmission chains for this particular type.

Elsewhere, the state of Victoria, which was the epicenter of nearly 28,000 cases in Australia last month, marked its 20th straight day with zero new cases.

Reporting by Swati Pandey; Edited by Aurora Ellis

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