The border dividing Australia’s two most populous states has been shut down for the first time in a century in hopes of containing a growing coronavirus outbreak.
Crossing areas between Victoria and New South Wales will now be patrolled by the military to make sure no one travels to the other side illegally, according to Reuters. The news agency reports that the last time such a closure happened was in 1919, during the Spanish flu pandemic.
“It is the smart call, the right call at this time, given the significant challenges we face in containing this virus,” Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said in its capital of Melbourne, where COVID-19 cases have been increasing in recent days.
As of Sunday, Victoria state reported 127 new coronavirus cases – an increase from the daily average of 109 cases being reported across the entire continent in the last week. The uptick has prompted local authorities to enforce social distancing guidelines and put nine public housing buildings on lockdown.
In the first week of June, the daily average throughout Australia was just nine cases, Reuters reports.
New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the border between both states will be closed indefinitely, although some people will be allowed to obtain permits to cross.
Since the beginning of the worldwide coronavirus outbreak, Australia has recorded 8,586 infections and 106 deaths, according to statistics from Johns Hopkins University.