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Australia's Perth at risk of second snap-lockdown with three new COVID-19 infections

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SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia’s fourth-largest city faces prospects of its second snap lockdown in two weeks, officials said on Sunday, after a hotel quarantine security guard in Perth and two of his housemates tested positive for COVID-19.

Western Australia (WA) Premier Mark McGowan said late on Saturday he had yet to decide whether the state’s capital city, which last week emerged from a three-day snap lockdown after reporting one COVID-19 infection, would go into lockdown on Sunday.

“Our restrictions in place, and the use of masks, and the ability of our contact tracers and testing give us the ability to hold on a lockdown decision,” McGowan told reporters late on Saturday.

“But it is possible that this could change tomorrow, or the day after.”

Australia, which has no other community transmissions of the coronavirus, this weekend banned citizens who had been in India within 14 days from returning home, as the world’s second-most populous nation contends with a surge in COVID-19 cases and deaths.

The antipodean country has all but stamped out community infections after closing its borders to non-citizens in March 2020, recording just 29,800 cases and 910 deaths.

The infected 20-year old security guard worked at Perth’s Pan Pacific Hotel and had already had his first COVID-19 vaccine, McGowan said. He was now quarantining alongside his seven housemates, five of whom had so far tested negative.

State officials are due to provide an update on Sunday afternoon.

New Zealand late on Saturday night paused travel from Western Australia, cancelling two flights due to arrive on Sunday morning. The Pacific nation last month agreed to a quarantine- and COVID-testing free “travel bubble” with Australia.

(Reporting by Paulina Duran; Editing by Sam Holmes)

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