Australia recorded its deadliest day in the coronavirus pandemic on Thursday with at least 13 deaths and more than 700 new infections mainly in Victoria state, where the government ordered all residents to wear face-coverings outside, APA reports citing Reuters.
The toll takes the country’s total fatalities from the novel coronavirus to 189, more than half of which have occurred in the second-most popular state of Victoria and its capital Melbourne, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.
Australia had prided itself on rapidly containing the initial COVID-19 outbreak but a second wave which began in Victoria last month has forced Melbourne back into lockdown and sparked outbreaks in other areas including Sydney.
“We’ve now been in this lockdown (in Melbourne) for some weeks and we are not getting the results we would hope for, and as a result the further measures that are taken are certainly necessary,” Morrison told reporters, backing the restrictions announced by the Victorian government.
“On some days the virus wins, on other days we beat it. But I think we’ve got to be careful not to slip into some idea that there’s some golden immunity that Australia has in relation to this virus.”
Further restrictions on movement would deal a blow to the economy which is already in its first recession for 30 years, but failure to control the latest outbreaks would do more economic harm in the long run, Morrison added.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said everyone in the state of more than 6 million people would be required to wear a mask when outside from Sunday, widening a requirement already in place in Melbourne.
He also extended social distancing restrictions, with residents in communities southwest of Melbourne no longer allowed to have visitors to their homes from late Thursday.