SYDNEY – Australia surpassed 300 COVID-19 deaths on Monday, including 19 in the state of Victoria, which has been combating a resurgence of the novel coronavirus in its capital city of Melbourne since the end of June.
Of the 19 deaths in Victoria, the country’s second most populous state, 14 of them occurred in the aged care homes, Premier Daniel Andrews announced at a press conference in Melbourne on Monday, in which he also reported a daily increase of 322 infections.
“We are seeing some stability. That’s a good thing. But that’s not enough. And that’s the product of masks and Stage 3. That’s what the experts tell us,” said Andrews, referring to a reduction in the number of daily infections, which went up to a record 725 cases on Wednesday.
“The next stage, though, is all about these restrictions that we’ve had to painfully impose. But we just don’t know. We can’t predict where we’ll be at the end of this,” he said. “But what we can be certain of – without any doubt – that if we don’t limit movement, we’ve got zero chance – zero chance – of driving down these numbers. That’s why these decisions are important.”
State authorities ordered a six-week lockdown of Melbourne on July 9 but as local transmissions continued to rise, it imposed a curfew from Aug. 2 and raised restrictions implemented from Thursday to mid-September to level 4.
The lockdown includes the closure of non-essential businesses such as retail stores and gyms, as well as restrictions on the operations of sectors such as construction and meat processing.
Australia, which had begun the process of restarting its economy after having appeared to have successfully overcome the epidemic, recorded an outbreak in Victoria in early July, concentrated especially in Melbourne, which was aggravated due to alleged breaches of quarantine measures imposed on travelers entering the country.
The country has recorded around 21,400 COVID-19 cases since the start of the epidemic, of which 15,000 are in Victoria, which at the end of June had around 2,200 infections.
In New South Wales state, located north of Victoria, 14 new coronavirus infections were recorded on Monday, mainly in the city of Sydney, which is battling various outbreaks and an increase in cases of unknown origin.