A state of disaster was declared in Australia’s Victoria on Sunday, with the local government implementing a night curfew as part of its harshest movement restrictions to date to contain the coronavirus.
State Premier Daniel Andrews said that the new restrictions, to be in place for six weeks until mid-September, will allow only one person per household to go shopping once a day.
Melbournians will not be able to go further than five kilometres (three miles) from home.
Movement restrictions and business operations would also be limited in the rest of the state, but not to the same level as in Melbourne.
Australia’s government expressed support on Sunday for the strictest social-distancing measures yet by the state of Victoria in an effort to contain the new coronavirus.
The backing by the federal government, ruled by a Liberal Party-led coalition, for the measures by Victoria’s Labor Party government shows national unity of message across the political spectrum in the country.
Melbourne, Australia’s second-largest city, is already under a reimposed six-week stay-home order, but it has been struggling to rein in Covid-19. Record numbers of new infections of the virus that causes the disease were reported last week, prompting warnings of further restrictions.
The state reported more than 650 infections on Sunday, up from 397 cases Saturday, ABC News television reported, citing unnamed sources.
Australia has fared far better than many other countries in keeping the coronavirus from spreading, but at a high economic cost. It has recorded around 17,300 coronavirus cases and 200 Covid-19 deaths, but the recent surge in Victoria has proven difficult to contain.
In Latin America, the death toll from coronavirus passed 200,000 on Saturday night, a Reuters tally showed.
Apart from the United States, Brazil and Mexico have racked up more fatalities from the virus than any other country, and together they account for around 70 per cent of the regional death toll.
Both have struggled to balance the need to curb the spread of the virus with restrictive safety measures while trying to reopen their economies, which have been battered by the crisis.
Brazil reported a daily record of 1,595 coronavirus deaths earlier in the week and registered another 1,088 on Saturday. Mexico recorded 784 fatalities on Saturday and for the first time logged more than 9,000 new infections from the virus.
Other countries in Latin America are also battling to hold the coronavirus at bay, and the region breached the 200,000 mark after Peru registered another 191 fatalities.
In South Africa, the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases of has crossed half a million, its health ministry said on Saturday, while cases in Africa as a whole approached a million.
South Africa recorded 10,107 new confirmed cases, pushing the total to 503,290, the ministry said. The country imposed a nationwide lockdown at the end of March to curb the spread of the virus, but it has now eased many restrictions to boost economic activity – as have other countries across the continent.
As restrictions have eased, infections have spiked over the last two months.
Elswhere, seven Chinese health officials are due to arrive in Hong Kong on Sunday, the first members of a 60-person team that will carry out widespread testing for coronavirus in the territory as the global financial hub races to halt a third wave of illness.
The initiative is the first time mainland health officials have assisted Hong Kong in its battle to control the coronavirus.
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said on Saturday the former British colony asked for help from the central government due to the resurgence in cases. She said the government was studying whether everyone in Hong Kong could be tested, local broadcaster RTHK reported on Saturday.
However, some local residents fear China may use this as an excuse to collect DNA samples for surveillance purposes. – Reuters