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image copyrightGetty Imagesimage captionThis is the fifth lockdown Victoria has experienced since the pandemic began

The Australian state of Victoria – home to its second largest city Melbourne – is set to enter a snap lockdown late on Thursday, after it recorded two more local cases of the virus.

The latest outbreak brings the total number of virus cases there to 18.

This is the fifth lockdown Victoria has experienced since the pandemic began. It will last until Tuesday.

The decision by Victoria means that about 40% of Australia's population is now under a stay-at-home order.

"You only get one chance to go hard and go fast. If you wait, if you hesitate, if you doubt, then you will always be looking back wishing you had done more earlier," Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said.

"I am not prepared to avoid a five-day lockdown now only to find ourselves in a five-week or a five-month lockdown. That is why we are making this very difficult decision."

Residents in the state of 6.6 million people will have to stay home except for grocery shopping, essential work, exercise and getting vaccinated.

Melbourne had largely avoided new cases despite an outbreak in the neighbouring state of New South Wales, home to the country's largest city Sydney.

But earlier this week, a team of Sydney furniture movers travelled to Melbourne, leading to a spread in cases.

New South Wales is also in a five-week lockdown which will last until the end of the month.

Authorities say it's unclear if the lockdown will definitely end then as cases have surged in recent days. The city now has about 1,000 cases, primarily caused by the highly infectious Delta variant.

media captionSydney extends lockdown to fight Delta outbreakHow is Australia's vaccine rollout going?

Only around 12% of Australia's adult population have been fully vaccinated so far. A lack of supplies, specifically of the Pfizer vaccine, means many Australians will not be able to get a jab until the final months of the year.

The country's rollout has also been affected by widespread vaccine hesitancy around the AstraZeneca vaccine – following cases of rare blood clots linked to the jab.

One professor, Nicholas Biddle, said just over 50% of people who said they wouldn't take a vaccine "said their decision was based on recent news about the AstraZeneca vaccine and blood clotting."

  • Covid vaccines and rare clots – what do we know?

Australia has recorded 911 deaths and more than 31,000 cases since the pandemic began.

Earlier this week, it saw its first local Covid death this year, a woman in her 90s who contracted the virus in a family setting.

Australia has used lockdowns and swift contact tracing to combat outbreaks of the virus when it has breached the nation's strict border defences.