The state of Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) on Monday announced a state of emergency to deal with the spread of the new coronavirus in Australia.
Victoria, the country’s second-most populated state with Melbourne as its capital, and the territory surrounding the country’s capital Canberra announced the measure after two more elderly people died overnight of Covid-19, the respiratory disease caused by the virus. Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said the emergency powers have never been used before. “That gives you, I hope, a really clear sense about the unprecedented nature of this public health emergency, this really significant challenge,’’ Andrews said.
The state of emergency in Victoria will last at least four weeks starting from midday (0100 GMT) on Monday. It means authorised officers in Victoria can quarantine places and people, detain them, restrict movement and prevent entry to premises to protect the public. Overnight, state health authorities confirmed two more people died in New South Wales, the jurisdiction with most cases of Covid-19. A 77-year-old woman who had recently arrived in Sydney died on Friday in a Sydney hospital.
A 90-year-old woman residing in an aged-care home died a day later. Both tested positive to the new coronavirus. Australia has more than 300 confirmed cases of Covid-19, with five deaths, including the two reported overnight. The Australian federal government on Sunday announced that all people travelling to the country must abide by a compulsory 14-day self-isolation at home or in their hotel. State police will enforce the rule and breaching the order could land the offender a fine of up to 20,000 Australian dollars (12,350 US dollars), depending on state jurisdictions. Meanwhile, China’s downward trend of new infections continued, with 16 new coronavirus infections and 14 new deaths reported over the past day. The latest numbers add up to a total of 80,860 infections across mainland China including 3,213 deaths, according to the National Health Commission. Four of the new cases and 14 of the deaths were recorded in Hubei province, where the outbreak first occurred in December. Twelve cases were patients who were infected abroad and found to be carrying the virus upon entering China, according to the government. Beijing has so far reported a total of 123 so-called imported cases. Beijing on Sunday announced it would quarantine all international arrivals for two weeks in designated facilities starting on Monday, in an effort to curb coronavirus infections from abroad. South Korea reported its lowest daily increase of new coronavirus cases in almost three weeks, with 74 new infections recorded and no new deaths, according to figures released by the health authorities. There were 74 new infections recorded by Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC), the smallest daily increase since February 25, bringing the total number of people diagnosed with the virus in the country to 8,236. The latest numbers confirmed a trend of decreasing new infections over the preceding days. South Korea reported a higher number of recoveries than new infections for the first time since the beginning of the outbreak on Friday. In Japan, the number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus infection has gradually risen to 1,528, including about 712 on a cruise ship in Yokohama. A total of 31 people died of Covid-19, authorities said. Critics say the actual number is probably much larger as there are not enough test kits available in the country. Cambodia’s Education Ministry meanwhile ordered the closure of all public and private schools, from primary schools to universities, until further notice in an effort to halt the spread of the outbreak, local media reported. The South-East Asian nation has confirmed 12 total cases of the respiratory disease since January, including five new infections over the weekend. In New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern advised to cancel all gatherings of more than 500 people to slow the spread and reduce the number of people infected. The country had eight confirmed cases of convid-19 with no new confirmed infections since Sunday. The national carrier Air New Zealand said it was reducing its capacity by 85 per cent over the coming months and would operate a minimal schedule to allow Kiwis to return home and to keep trade corridors with Asia and North America open. Air NZ Executive Officer Greg Foran said based on Monday’s projections, its 12,500 workforces would drop by 30 per cent.