George Russell in Hong Kong
Australian health officials have raised concerns that a second wave of coronavirus largely confined to Victoria, the country’s second most populous state, could spread up the coast to New South Wales and Queensland.
“We are seeing some signs of community transmission in both NSW and Queensland, and we’ve got additional restrictions in place,” said Alison McMillan, Australia’s chief nursing and midwifery officer.
Victoria recorded 73 new coronavirus cases on Monday, its lowest daily total since July 3. However, the state’s death toll rose by 41 due to the inclusion of 22 previously unrecorded care home cases.
The state premier, Daniel Andrews, said it was too early to offer a roadmap towards lifting restrictions. “Another week of data is critical,” he said on Monday. “The numbers are too high for us to open.”
A driver is tested for coronavirus in Ballarat, a regional Victorian city which recorded no new cases on Monday © Getty Images
NSW recorded 10 cases on Monday after seven on Sunday, as a cluster around a central-city gym grew. Public transport officials in Sydney are on alert after an apparent case of transmission between two bus passengers.
“The transmission in the Sydney CBD is of concern,” Ms McMillan said in remarks posted on Monday on the Australian health department website.
Queensland, with its sunshine and tropical beaches, is a popular destination for “schoolies”, the Australian equivalent of the US spring break for students.
But the state government cancelled all such celebrations as it put new restrictions into effect at the weekend across the tourism-dependent Gold Coast, limiting social gatherings and locking down care homes for the elderly.