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Australia’s third largest city, Brisbane, was on the first day of an early lockdown on Saturday, and officials elsewhere were on “high alert” over the emergence of more contagious COVID-19 strains.

The normally busy downtown shopping street was eerily quiet on Saturday, with only a small number of masked locals venturing out for substantial reasons after officials announced a three-day lockdown starting Friday evening.

“Pretty surreal, like something out of a movie set,” local Scott told AFP on an empty city street.

“It is necessary – hopefully we will get through the next few days without cases so that we can start getting back to normal.”

Highways into the city – which is usually a popular destination for Australian vacationers – were abandoned when tourists were told to stay out until the lockdown ended.

The stay at home order for Brisbane’s more than two million residents was triggered after the UK strain of the virus spread from a returning traveler to cleaning staff at a quarantine hotel – Australia’s first local case of the variant.

The British tribe are among several emerging varieties around the world that are believed to be more contagious than those that have previously spread.

Authorities also warned passengers about a flight that came from Melbourne to Brisbane earlier this month after a woman tested positive for the British strain despite an already isolated period.

“The risk is extremely small – very, very, very small – because she (the traveler) is at the end of her potential period of infection,” Queensland chief health officer Jeannette Young told the media.

“But we are just extremely careful about this new variant.”

The news comes as parts of Sydney prepared to end a week-long lockdown after an outbreak last month at midnight.

New South Wales Minister of Health Brad Hazzard said the state remains on “high alert” as more and more quarantined travelers test positive for new variants of COVID-19.

“Of course there was hope that we entered 2021 without COVID, but it’s here to stay,” he added.

Fear of an infectious burden spreading across the community prompted Australia to announce a temporary cut in international arrivals and tighten quarantine arrangements.

Prior to the lockdown, Brisbane was among several Australian cities that have seen a return to relative normality due to the country’s success in suppressing the virus.

Australia has recorded more than 28,500 COVID-19 cases and 909 deaths related to the virus among a population of approximately 25 million.

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© 2021 AFP

Quote: Brisbane Suspended As New Tribes Put Australia On Alert (2021 Jan 9), accessed Jan 10, 2021 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-01-brisbane-strains-australia-high.html

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