CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia’s Victoria state on Friday reported the new daily record of 288 coronavirus cases, which also reflects a record number of tests exceeding 37,500.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that the number of citizens and permanent residents allowed to return to Australia each week will be reduced by more than 4,000 from next week.
Sydney, Australia’s largest city, has been carrying a disproportionate burden of hotel quarantine that is currently paid for by the New South Wales state government.
Victoria, to the south, has banned international arrivals after breaches of hotel quarantine in Melbourne were blamed for Australia’s only widespread transmission of COVID-19.
Vicotoria’s Chief Helath Officer Breet Sutton said “certainly, 288 new cases today is a pretty ugly number.”
“Our numbers are the numbers that the U.S. gets every 10 minutes. We are still in a fortunate position and we have gone to a lockdown at this juncture in order not to have those kind of pressures manifest in our system,” Sutton said.
Melbourne went into lockdown again on Wednesday night for six weeks.
Victoria has become the first state to recommend its residents wear masks if they can’t maintain 1.5 meters (5 feet) social distancing such as when they’re on public transport or in supermarkets.
Queensland, to the north, charges travelers 2,800 Australian dollars ($1,900) for their two weeks in hotel quarantine, making Sydney are more attractive destination for Queenslanders to land from overseas.
Morrison said other states are moving to charge for hotel quarantine as well given that Australia has been urging citizens for weeks to return as soon as possible. Outside Victoria, most of Australia’s COVID-19 cases have been detected in hotel quarantine.
In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region:
— India’s coronavirus caseload is nearing 800,000 with the biggest spike of 26,506 cases reported in the past 24 hours, prompting some states to go back to a stringent lockdown in high-risk areas. The new confirmed cases took the national total to 793,802. The Health Ministry on Friday also reported another 475 deaths, taking total fatalities to 21,604. The ministry said the recovery rate is continuing to improve at more than 60%. Eastern Bihar state reimposed a full lockdown in capital Patna and four other districts for a week beginning Friday. India’s most populous Uttar Pradesh state, with nearly 230 million people, also announced a weekend lockdown. The two states account for hundreds of thousands of migrant workers who returned to their homes after becoming jobless in late March.
— South Korea has reported 45 new cases of the coronavirus as health authorities scramble to stem infections in major cities across the country. The figures bring the national caseload to 13,338, including 288 deaths. Twenty-three of the new cases came from the Seoul metropolitan area, which has been at the center of a virus resurgence since late May. Infections were also reported in other major cities such as Gwangju and Daejeon. Health authorities say they are stuck in a difficult game of “whack-a-mole” with new clusters popping up in various places — including churches, restaurants, nightspots and office buildings.
— China on Friday reported four newly confirmed cases of the coronavirus, all of them brought from overseas. No new deaths were reported and 342 people remain in treatment. Another 121 people are in isolation and being monitored as being suspected cases or for testing positive for the virus without showing any symptoms. China has reported 4,634 deaths from COVID-19 among 83,585 cases since the virus was first detected late last year in the central city of Wuhan.
Source: AP NEWS