Good evening, here are the latest developments on the coronavirus pandemic in Australia. This is Josh Taylor and Calla Wahlquist and it’s Friday 3 July.
300,000 Victorians return to lockdown
About 300,000 Victorians, living in 36 suburbs identified by ten “restricted postcodes,” went back into stage three lockdown on Wednesday night after health officials reported a concerning spike in community transmission.
That means they can only leave home for work or study, exercise, caregiving, or essential shopping. Police have been patrolling the suburbs to ensure compliance and public health teams are going door-to-door with testing kits.
Premier Daniel Andrews said the outbreak was suspected to be linked to security guards working at hotels where returned overseas travellers were quarantined. He appointed judge Jennifer Coate to conduct an inquiry into hotel quarantine, reporting by 25 September, and requested all international flights be diverted away from Victoria.
Huge jump in community transmission
The number of cases attributed to untraced community transmission in Victoria increased by 118 in the past seven days. That means a third of the 363 cases of community transmission recorded in the state throughout the entire pandemic were reported in the past week.
In the same period, the number of people hospitalised with Covid-19 increased from six to 23.
Victoria recorded 421 new coronavirus cases in the past week, and has had double-digit daily totals for the past three weeks. On Friday, Australia’s total coronavirus case load went up by 66 – just from cases in Victoria.
Northern Territory records first coronavirus case since April
The man, who returned to Australia from Pakistan and underwent hotel quarantine in Melbourne before returning to the Northern Territory, tested positive on Wednesday.
It is the first new case of Covid-19 reported in the territory since April 6. Officials said the man visited family living in Melbourne’s hotspot suburbs before flying to Darwin, and requested a test after feeling unwell.
Another returned traveller who underwent mandatory quarantine in Melbourne before flying to Sydney to work at a Woolworths supermarket in Balmain also tested positive this week, prompting fifty staff at the store to go into quarantine.
Meanwhile an outbreak at a Coles distribution centre in Laverton, Victoria, prompted the supermarket to place new purchase limits on items including fresh milk for shoppers in Victoria and Tasmania.
States keep borders closed to Victorians
Queensland says it will reopen its state borders to everyone except Victorians on 10 July. South Australia also postponed “indefinitely” its planned 20 July reopening of borders with Victoria.
In NSW, police were checking the licences of Victorians entering the state by road, rail, and air to ensure they had not come from a hotspot suburb. Anyone entering NSW from a hotspot area faces an $11,000 fine. The ACT has told Victorians from hotspot suburbs to undergo a 14-day quarantine, at their own cost, upon entry to the territory, or face penalties.
Australia passes more than 8,000 coronavirus cases
Australia hit two milestones this week. As of Wednesday, Australia has conducted more than 2.5m coronavirus tests, and on Thursday, the number of coronavirus cases recorded in Australia topped 8,000.
Some Victorians shun test claiming Covid-19 conspiracy
Health minister Jenny Mikakos on Friday revealed the state had identified a “super spreader”, a person who may have spread the virus to many people in the northern and western suburbs of Melbourne.
The state government also revealed an unspecified portion of the 10,000 people in the state to refuse to take a coronavirus test did so on the basis that they incorrectly believe the virus to be a conspiracy.
The premier, Daniel Andrews, has not ruled out more lockdowns in the state if the current spike in cases is not brought under control.
Victorian AFL teams move interstate
In response to the second spike in Victoria, the 10 AFL teams located in the state will move to NSW and Queensland for the next 32 days or so, before a re-assessment of the Covid-19 situation in Victoria.
NSW minister Don Harwin returns to job
Former NSW arts minister Don Harwin who resigned after he received a fine for staying at a holiday home has been reinstated in the job. Police said Harwin’s actions were in breach of the public health order, but Harwin denied he had done anything wrong and it seems the public prosecutor agreed, declining to take the matter to court. .
Harwin resigned in April stating he didn’t want to be a “distraction” for the NSW government responding to the Covid-19 pandemic.
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