MELBOURNE, Australia — The southeast Australian state, Victoria, has recorded 26 new locally acquired cases of coronavirus a week into its state-wide lockdown.

The health department has confirmed the new infections on July 22 are all linked to the current outbreak, which originated in New South Wales and now totals 133 cases. Twenty-four of the 26 cases were in quarantine throughout their entire infectious period.

It is the state’s highest daily total of the current outbreak and follows the 22 cases reported on July 21.

But Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said he suspects the state would already be dealing with 200 to 300 cases if it had not entered lockdown a week ago, citing the highly infectious nature of the Delta variant.

“It is a variant that takes off from dozens to thousands of cases within just a matter of weeks,” he said.

“If we’d locked down today, instead of when we did, we would get thousands of cases in the next couple of weeks. We’d be in a world of hurt.”

Cleaners are seen at work inside of the Prahran Market in Melbourne, July 22, 2021. Prahran Market is undergoing a deep clean after it was revealed a customer, who later tested positive for Covid-19, visited on July 17 between 9.40 am and 11.15 am. (James Ross/AAP Image)

Sutton also said that he believed community transmission had peaked but expected more household cases to emerge. He also warned the number of people in intensive care could grow, given the severity of the delta variant.

As of July 21, there are five people in hospital with Covid-19, including a man from Barwon Heads in intensive care. Some 18,000 primary close contacts are self-isolating across the state, while the number of exposure sites has grown to more than 380. Barwon Heads is a coastal township on the Bellarine Peninsula, near Geelong, Victoria, Australia. It is situated on the west bank of the mouth of the Barwon River below Lake Connewarre.

Prahran Market in Melbourne’s inner southeast is yet to appear on the government’s official exposure site list but has been shut for deep cleaning after a positive case visited on July 17 between 9.40 am and 11.15 am.

The market said the health department has declared the entire building a tier-one exposure site, meaning anyone who visited during the time period must get tested and quarantined for 14 days.

“The market has undergone a thorough deep clean earlier today & we are waiting for confirmation from relevant authorities whether we can reopen tomorrow. We promise we will inform you of their decision as soon as we receive it & our traders have been notified.” tweeted the official handle of the market on July 22.

Around 43,674 tests were processed in the 24 hours to the morning of July 22, while 14,230 Victorians received a vaccine dose at one of the state-run hubs.

(Edited by Saptak Datta and Ritaban Misra)

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