Victoria sees record daily Covid-19 cases, NSW curbs wedding parties
Sydney, Australia, July 17 (efe-epa).- Australia’s Victoria reported three deaths and 428 new Covid-19 cases on Friday while neighboring New South Wales declared a ban on dancing at weddings amid a new wave of infections.
The government in Victoria, which reimposed on July 9 a strict lockdown on the five million inhabitants of capital Melbourne and the neighboring rural Mitchell Shire for six weeks, said it had recorded the largest daily increase of Covid-19 cases since the start of the epidemic.
The state has so far recorded over 5,100 infections and more than half of them have occurred this month. At least 150 health workers have been infected with the coronavirus in the state.
The regional authorities have conducted more than a million tests to detect Covid-19 and imposed over 500 fines on people who have violated the restrictions, including those who have gone to brothels, organized parties, or stepped out of their homes to play the video game, Pokemon Go.
“We are in the fight of our lives,” Victoria Health Minister Jenny Mikakos told reporters at a time when further tightening of restrictions is not being ruled out by the authorities if the daily infection curve is not flattened.
“The likelihood of even more enforcement and the likelihood of additional rules is all in the hands of every Victorian living under these rules. If we all play a part, then it will be more likely than less likely that we can be passed this sooner,” Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said.
The neighboring state of New South Wales, whose border with Victoria was closed last week for the first time in 100 years, is on “high alert” due to an outbreak linked to a pub in southwest Sydney.
The outbreak has caused more than 40 infections since the beginning of the month.
New South Wales, which together with Victoria, accounts for more than 50 percent of the Australian population and economy, recorded eight new cases on Friday for a total of 3,346 infections to date.
On Friday, NSW Premier Gladys Berijiklian announced a series of changes that will take effect in a week and limit reservations in the hospitality sector, among other measures.
Berijiklian said a maximum of 150 people would be allowed at weddings, adding that they must be “completely seated, no dancing, no singing, no mingling.”
Meanwhile, no more than 100 people will be allowed at funerals and places of worship, she added, at a press conference.
New South Wales, which has received the majority of the over 70,000 citizens and residents who returned to Australia after the closure of international borders, will charge AU$ 3,000 ($2,095) for the mandatory 14-day quarantine on international travelers starting Saturday.
Australia, whose strategy of “aggressive suppression” goes hand-in-hand with economic incentives to ease the country’s first recession after nearly 30 years of growth, has more than 11,000 COVID-19 cases and 116 deaths since the start of the epidemic.
Several Australian states and territories, some of which have not recorded any COVID-19 cases for days and even weeks, have resumed normal activities although they restrict the entry of people from Melbourne and Sydney. EFE-EPA