Victoria reports five new Covid-19 cases

Australia's second-most populous state Victoria on Saturday reported a small increase in locally acquired Covid-19 cases as authorities hunted for the source of a highly infectious variant that has been detected in a new cluster.

Five new local cases were reported, taking Victoria's total to 69 in the latest outbreak, as the state capital Melbourne entered its second weekend of a hard lockdown, due to end on June 10. Curbs were eased for the rest of the state on Friday.

Saturday's count was up from four new locally acquired cases on Friday.

Authorities on Friday were alarmed after detecting the highly infectious Delta Covid-19 virus variant for the first time in Melbourne, sparking concerns cases could spike. There are now seven known cases of the Delta variant in the city.

The Delta variant, which has been classified by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as among the four Covid-19 variants of concern due to evidence that it spreads more easily, likely caused the latest devastating outbreak in India.

Snap lockdowns, regional border restrictions and strict social distancing rules have helped Australia rein in prior outbreaks and keep its Covid-19 numbers relatively low at just 30,150 cases and 910 deaths.

Victoria's outbreak, which began on May 24, has spurred people to join long queues for vaccinations following a slow rollout since February. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Friday 20% of the adult population has now had a first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.

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