Quotas for returning Australians to be halved amid Melbourne outbreak

PHOTO: France 24

As Australia struggles with a new Covid-19 outbreak in Melbourne, Australian PM Scott Morrison has announced that from this Monday he’s cutting the number of Australians allowed to reenter the country by half – from 8,000 to only 4,000 daily. He says the move is needed to devote resources to countering the “very concerning” domestic virus surge. Authorities there have reported a record 288 new cases of of the virus in the past 24 hours.

The number is the highest daily jump in new infections since the Melbourne outbreak began in mid-June, with officials partly linking the increase to a record amount of testing for the virus. More than 30,000 people have been tested in the previous 24 hours. Health security breaches of quarantine hotels in Melbourne are being blamed for the new outbreak, with returning overseas travellers accounting for the majority of the country’s virus cases.

According to Daniel Andrews, Victorian Premier , where Melbourne is the capital…

“It was always going to get worse before it got better. We are doing more testing than has ever been done.”

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About 5 million residents of the greater Melbourne area, or about 20% of the nation’s population, were ordered into a 6 week, stay-at-home lockdown earlier this week in an effort to, again, curb the new outbreak which has rattled Australia. The country had successfully contained the epidemic in most areas just weeks ago.

The BBC reports Australians in Victoria have also been barred from travelling to other states and territories in the country. Health officials say it will take several weeks to know if the Melbourne lockdown will work. And for the first time in Australia, authorities recommended that people wear masks in public, although only if they are unable to observe proper social distancing when in the Melbourne region.

Australia closed its international borders to all but returning citizens and permanent residents in late March. As in Thailand, all returning citizens and residents have been put in mandatory quarantine, stretching medical resources in the country’s main cities.

PM Morrison says the cap on returning Australians will remain in place until Melbourne’s outbreak is contained.

But while the situation is worsening in Melbourne, the northeastern Queensland state opened its domestic borders yesterday for the first time in more than 3 months. People from Victoria will remain banned for now.

Queensland is the nation’s premier vacation spot during the southern winter (think “Florida”. Tourists flock there every year to take advantage of its beaches, tropical forests and the Great Barrier Reef.

Most other states and regions are reporting few, or no, new daily cases of the disease in recent weeks.

SOURCE: Chiang Rai Times

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