Melbourne Outbreak Spreads to Sydney as Covid-19 Cases Top 10,000

AREAS of Sydney have been declared coronavirus outbreak hotspots by a state government, as health authorities fear the second wave of infections in Melbourne has now spread to Australia’s largest city.

The declaration by the New South Wales state government means that anyone who has been to the areas of Liverpool and Campbelltown in Sydney’s southwest will need to quarantine in a hotel should they enter neighbouring state Queensland.

The second wave of infections, which has pushed Australia’s total case tally throughout the pandemic to more than 10,000, is dashing Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s hopes that he would be able to help revive a crippled economy by easing most social-distancing restrictions by end-July, after it tumbled into recession in the first half of the year.

Victoria state last week enforced a six-week lockdown after health authorities identified breaches in hotel quarantine procedures as the catalyst for outbreaks which spread through large families within multicultural communities. On Tuesday it said it had recorded 270 new cases in the previous 24 hours.

Queensland Health Minister Steven Miles said on Tuesday that 18 people from his state were being tested for the virus after they had visited the Crossroads Hotel in western Sydney.

The pub in Casula on the city’s outskirts is a hub for interstate commuters including truck drivers and holiday makers, and is believed to be responsible for facilitating a new outbreak of at least 20 infections within New South Wales state.

Testing visitors of the Victoria hotel was “important because we are seeing continued cases confirmed who attended that hotel and we’ve seen subsequent infections in families and other groups from people who have come into contact with people who went to that hotel,” Queensland chief health officer Jeanette Young told reporters in Brisbane.

The outbreak in Sydney has caused the New South Wales state government to announce on Tuesday it would reverse some easing of social-distancing restrictions, with pubs allowed a maximum of 300 patrons regardless of their size and group bookings halved to 10.

“During a pandemic, when you’re easing restrictions as we have been doing, you’re going to get extra cases and we have to live with that,” New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters on Tuesday, when the state announced it had detected 13 new cases in the previous 24 hours.

Victoria state, which accounts for one-quarter of the nation’s economic output, has more than 1,800 active cases. On Tuesday, Premier Daniel Andrews said he had reached out to the federal government to request more military personnel to help control and contain the outbreak.

An additional 1,000 defense force personnel will be sent to Victoria over the next three to four weeks to free up the state’s emergency services workers and allow them to self-isolate if they’re exposed to the coronavirus.

“Further restrictions need to be considered,” Victoria chief health officer Brett Sutton said on Tuesday. “We can’t rule anything out if there aren’t sufficient mechanisms to drive down transmission.” – Bloomberg


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