Australia may tighten restrictions as cases rise
MELBOURNE: Australian media are reporting that coronavirus-forced restrictions in Melbourne could be tightened from next week as authorities try to stem the spread of COVID-19.
The Sunday Age reported the city may be placed under a six-week period of more stringent constraints, including the almost complete shutdown of Melbourne's public transport network, starting from Wednesday.
The Sunday Herald Sun reports Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews will announce the new measures over the next two days. They also include limiting the distance residents could travel from their homes and the closure of more businesses selling non-essential goods.
It comes as Australia's COVID-19 death toll rose to 201, with Victoria state leaders considering New Zealand-style lockdowns to get community transmission under control. Victoria on Saturday reported the deaths of a man and two women aged in their 80s and 90s, and 397 new cases.
The state's chief health officer, Brett Sutton, said stricter lockdowns like those enforced in New Zealand were being considered. Under the New Zealand model, all businesses would shut down except for essential services.
On Sunday, New South Wales confirmed its first coronavirus-related death in more than a month as authorities sought to suppress a number of growing clusters at a hotel and several restaurants in Sydney.
In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region:
— India's coronavirus caseload crossed 1.75 million with another spike of 54,735 in the past 24 hours. The new cases are down from 57,118 on Saturday. The Health Ministry on Sunday also reported 853 deaths for a total of 37,364. Randeep Guleria, a top government expert, said that New Delhi and Mumbai may have crossed their peak levels with declining trends. The month of July alone has accounted for more than 1.1 million cases in India. Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said the case fatality rate is progressively reducing and currently stands at 2.18%, one of the lowest globally. Out of the total active cases, only 0.28% are on ventilators, 1.61% need intensive care support and 2.32% oxygen support.
— South Korea has reported 30 additional case of the coronavirus, most of them associated with international arrivals. The cases announced Sunday by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention brought the national tally to 14,366 with 301 deaths. The agency says eight of the newly confirmed cases were locally infected while the rest came from overseas. South Korea has recently seen an uptick in imported cases, many of them South Korean construction workers airlifted out of virus-ravaged Iraq and crew members of Russia-flagged cargo ships docked in local ports. Health authorities have said imported cases are less threatening as they continue to enforce two-week quarantines on all people arriving from abroad.