As countries across the globe grapple with the prospect of renewed lockdowns, the Australian city of Melbourne offers a stark lesson on the costs of bringing the coronavirus under control. The city of 5 million people on Wednesday emerged from one of the world’s strictest and longest lockdowns that shuttered businesses and confined residents to their homes for more than three months. While infections have dropped from a daily peak of about 700 in early August to just two new cases on Wednesday, the economic and social impact of Melbourne’s second lockdown since the crisis began has been enormous. Australia’s government estimates 1,200 jobs have been lost on average a day across Victoria state, while demand for mental health services has surged by more than 30%. Despite key factors working in Melbourne’s favor, including closed borders, an infection count that was tiny by international standards, and a state government with strong public backing, it still took twice as long as anticipated to crush the curve.
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