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Australia Covid: AFL Grand Finals Tied to Victoria Business Spike

Victoria reported 1,438 new infections on Thursday, up from 948 the day before – an increase according to the state’s chief pandemic response was the result of a “significant number of social gatherings” that coincided with the championship game of the Australian Football League (AFL) between the Melbourne Demons and the West Bulldogs on Saturday.

“(We saw) big holiday parties, other social gatherings, barbecues, backyard tours – and all of that created a significant extra workload,” Jeroen Weimar said. at a press conference. Up to a third of the new cases could be attributed directly to the rallies, he added.

The AFL Grand Final is an important event in Australia, especially in Victoria where the sport originates and which celebrates the Friday before the match as the official public holiday.

However, with Victoria in a hard lockdown since August as the state tries to bring a local outbreak of the highly contagious Delta variant under control, the finale has been moved to Perth, Western Australia.

The Championship game is the Australian football equivalent of the NFL Superbowl, with nearly 3 million people across Australia watching on September 25 – around 12% of the population.

Thursday’s increase in the number of cases is a “significant setback,” Weimar said, as demographics of those infected indicate the virus has spread further than usual. About 55% of the new cases were reported in men, many of whom were disproportionately younger, he said.

People had “let their guard down” over the weekend, Weimar added.

“(They) have now decided it’s a big final weekend, it’s a long weekend, we deserve a little bit of a payback. And that’s now translated into at least 500 more cases.” , did he declare.

The Melbourne Demons won the grand final, ending the club’s 57-year wait for the championship.

The Victorian government has said it will ease restrictions on the movement of people once 70% of its population has been fully vaccinated, but the state has recently seen violent protests from groups opposed to the lockdown.

From Thursday, nearly 50% of Victoria’s population had received two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine.

Speaking at the press conference on Thursday, Victoria Prime Minister Daniel Andrews said the new wave of cases was “completely preventable” but ruled out a link between the outbreak and last week’s protests in due to a lack of evidence.