Daily US Times: Australia has experienced its deadliest day of the Covid-19 pandemic amid a second wave of infections in Melbourne.
On Monday, Victoria state – of which Melbourne is the capital – reported 19 deaths.
Victoria has now seen about two-thirds of the country’s total 314 deaths and approximately 21,400 cases.
But the number of daily infections has dropped in recent days, prompting hope that a strict lockdown is working. Despite the cases are lowering, it is still in the hundreds.
Over a month ago, Melbourne’s second lockdown began, but residents have been subject to a night-time curfew and stricter requirements since 3 August.
All non-essential businesses have been shut and workers must carry a permit to leave home. Mask-wearing in public is also compulsory.
On Monday, Victoria reported 322 new cases, down from a high of 725 recorded five days ago. Other Australian states reported few or no cases.
In just the past week, more than 100 deaths have been recorded in Victoria, as hospital admission rates also rise.
Daniel Andrews, Victorian Premier, said it was too early to tell if the state was at a turning point, but “we’re certainly seeing some greater stability” following the stricter measures.
He said: “It’s always better to be lower than the previous day, but it is only one day’s data.”
Most deaths have been linked to outbreaks in nearly 100 aged care homes in the state.
But among last week’s victims, a man in his 30s was – prompting authorities to urge young people to take greater care.
In neighbouring New South Wales (NSW), authority urged young people to restrict their social activities.
Queensland, which has closed its border to Victoria and New South Wales, said on Monday it appeared to have avoided an outbreak, two weeks after travellers brought the virus back from Melbourne.
What happened to Australia’s early success?
Australia had been hailed earlier for its success fighting the coronavirus. The country has still fared better than many countries overall due to effective suppression measures early in the pandemic.
But since June – when most of the people emerged from a first lockdown – the outbreak in Melbourne has spiralled.
Infections there make up more than 70% of the country’s total cases since the pandemic began.
The outbreak is suspected to have begun with breaches in hotel quarantine of infected travelers returning from overseas.