Jan 09, 2021

Ukraine, Brisbane enters lockdown

Ukraine closed schools, restaurants and gyms on Friday as a new nationwide lockdown took effect to fight the coronavirus pandemic in the nation of 41 million people.

Coronavirus infections in Ukraine began rising again in September and have remained relatively high. The country has registered more than 1 million coronavirus cases with 19,588 deaths as of Jan. 8.

The government had decided on the January lockdown in early December, when Ukraine was at the peak of the epidemic and the number of new cases stood at around 12,000-14,000 a day.

The new measures, which include the closure of entertainment centres and a ban on mass gatherings, will be in force until Jan. 24.

Despite calls to ease the lockdown or even cancel it, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and Health Minister Maksym Stepanov have said the restrictions were urgently needed.

“By introducing a stricter quarantine from tomorrow, we will avoid a large increase in patients with both COVID-19 and the usual seasonal flu,” Stepanov said, according to a statement on Thursday.

However, another group of Ukranian tourists arrived in Sri Lanka on Friday.

Brisbane enters snap lockdown

The Australian city of Brisbane has begun a snap three-day lockdown after a cleaner in its hotel quarantine system became infected with coronavirus.

Health officials said the cleaner had the highly transmissible UK variant and they were afraid it could spread.

Brisbane has seen very few cases of the virus beyond quarantined travellers since Australia's first wave last year.

It is the first known instance of this variant entering the Australian community outside of hotel quarantine.

The lockdown is for five populous council areas in Queensland's state capital.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced the measure on Friday morning local time, about 16 hours after the woman tested positive.

Ms Palaszczuk said the lockdown aimed to halt the virus as rapidly as possible, adding: "Doing three days now could avoid doing 30 days in the future."

(Excerpts from Reuters & BBC News)