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Australia's COVID-19 epicenter delays decision on lifting lockdown restrictions

5 Comments
By Paulina Duran

Victoria state, Australia's COVID-19 epicenter, on Sunday delayed an expected announcement on the easing of lockdown restrictions due to an outbreak in Melbourne, prompting warnings that residents were at a "financial and mental breaking point."

The restrictions have limited most retail businesses in the state's capital to providing online services only since early August, and 5 million people living under stay-at-home orders were expecting an announcement on Sunday.

State premier Daniel Andrews told a media conference the outbreak in Melbourne's northern suburbs threatened to push the reopening date of retail and hospitality businesses closer to Nov 1.

Andrews said he decided to wait until test results showed whether all infections in the latest outbreak were linked.

"We will get (the test results) today and tomorrow and hopefully we are able to make, not only announcements but to take the big steps safely around the middle of this week," Andrews said. "I know everyone will be disappointed we're not making that move today. I am too."

The federal government and industry leaders have been putting increasing pressure on Andrews to fully reopen the city and the state.

"We cannot go on like this," Business Council of Australia chief executive Jennifer Westacott said in a statement."Victorians cannot hang on week to week. People are at a financial and mental breaking point."

Health Minister Greg Hunt said Victoria was ready to ease restrictions, describing any delay as "deeply concerning" because of the mental health harm caused by the lockdown.

"On the balance of evidence and risk, Victoria is in a sufficiently strong place to replicate that which has occurred in New South Wales (NSW)," Hunt told reporters, referring to the country's largest state, which has reopened its economy.

On Sunday, NSW will host the largest public gathering since the pandemic began, a rugby league game with 40,000 attendees.

NSW and Victoria each found seven new COVID-19 cases in the previous 24 hours. Six of the new cases in Victoria were linked to the northern suburbs outbreak in Melbourne, which involved 39 infected people across 11 households.

The 14-day moving average of new cases in Victoria fell to 4.6, below the threshold of five Andrews had previously set for the next band of restrictions to be lifted.

Australia has recorded nearly 27,500 infections and more than 900 deaths, a fraction of those in some other countries. Victoria accounts for over 90% of lives lost to the virus.

© (Thomson Reuters 2020.

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

5 Comments
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They may very well be at financial and mental breaking point. However, they only have themselves to blame for disregarding the restrictions and not observing the strict guidelines to prevent the spread of the virus. The rest of Australia has been able to control the spread of the virus and keep the weekly new cases in single figures.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

lockdown over 4.6 "cases" per day over the last 14 days for something that 99.99% of people under 70 can recover from. Yet another state has a rugby game with 40,000 people?

Something definitely wrong here. best wishes to everyone involved that they can get back to life soon before they die of something else while waiting.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

Locked down since early August? That was 10 or 11 weeks ago - it is almost Springtime there now. Shades of what we can expect this winter in the Northern Hemisphere. (The long lockdowns). If people are at a mental breaking point, it may be good so many firearms were taken away a decade ago, or they'll be shooting each other and themselves.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Do the hustleToday  04:40 pm JST

They may very well be at financial and mental breaking point. However, they only have themselves to blame for disregarding the restrictions and not observing the strict guidelines to prevent the spread of the virus. The rest of Australia has been able to control the spread of the virus and keep the weekly new cases in single figures.

No, that's false.

The government screwed up by authorising unqualified people to manage the hotel quarantine system and failing to secure people in nursing care who are actually the most vulnerable. And have been caught covering their rears to evade responsibility.

The vast majority of Victorians are not in danger from this virus and want to get back to normal life. Only authoritarian sympathisers and the chronically uninformed want it to go on.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

The rest of Australia has been able to keep numbers of "cases" own without such draconian lockdowns, indicating that Daniel Andrews' government has handled the situation far more harshly than necessary with worse results.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

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