Australia has reported a record rise in coronavirus infections and deaths, with the state of Victoria announcing more than 700 new cases and 13 deaths, as the state continues to battle significant outbreaks in the aged care sector and among healthcare workers. It comes as global cases passed 17 million, after five of the last seven days saw one-day jumps of more than 250,000 new infections.
The 723 new cases announced by the Victorian premier Daniel Andrews marked the 25th consecutive day of triple-digit increases in Australia’s second most populous state. Ten of the 13 deaths are believed to be connected to aged care homes. Australia’s previous deadliest day was Sunday, when 10 people were reported to have died.
In response to the record high, Andrews announced that from midnight on Thursday, people living in several regional districts south-west of Melbourne would no longer be allowed any visitors to their homes. Andrews also mandated the wearing of face coverings outside home for the entire state, from this Sunday.
In the state of Queensland, meanwhile, two coronavirus-infected Brisbane teenagers who dodged quarantine after returning from Victoria will face court, as the state braces itself for a possible outbreak of community transmission. The 19-year-olds returned from Melbourne via Sydney but allegedly lied on their border declaration form to avoid having to quarantine at their own expense in a hotel. A third woman travelled with them, but at this stage has tested negative to the virus and remains in quarantine.
The actions of the women has sparked a massive tracing mission for Queensland Health. Shopping centres, restaurants, a school, a church, and aged care centres have been closed. A third woman – the sister of one of the teens – has also tested positive to the illness.
Australia’s most populous state of New South Wales reported 18 new coronavirus cases overnight, and a Sydney correctional facility underwent deep cleaning after a prisoner tested positive. The inmate had recently been in Victoria and was arrested for driving offences before being bail refused.