Australia has reported a record rise in coronavirus infections and deaths, with the state of Victoria announcing more than 700 new cases and 13 deaths, as the state continues to battle significant outbreaks in the aged care sector and among healthcare workers. It comes as global cases neared 17m, after five of the last seven days saw one-day jumps of more than 250,000 new infections.
The 723 new cases announced by the Victorian premier Daniel Andrews marked the 25th consecutive day of triple-digit increases in Australia’s second most populous state. Ten of the 13 deaths are believed to be connected to aged care homes. Australia’s previous deadliest day was Sunday, when ten people were reported to have died.
In response to the record high, Andrews announced that from midnight on Thursday, people living in several regional districts south-west of Melbourne would no longer be allowed any visitors to their homes. Andrews also mandated the wearing of face coverings outside home for the entire state, from this Sunday.
In the state of Queensland, meanwhile, two coronavirus-infected Brisbane teenagers who dodged quarantine after returning from Victoria will face court, as the state braces itself for a possible outbreak of community transmission. The 19-year-olds returned from Melbourne via Sydney but allegedly lied on their border declaration form to avoid having to quarantine at their own expense in a hotel. A third woman travelled with them, but at this stage has tested negative to the virus and remains in quarantine.
The actions of the women has sparked a massive tracing mission for Queensland Health. Shopping centres, restaurants, a school, a church, and aged care centres have been closed. A third woman – the sister of one of the teens – has also tested positive to the illness.
Australia’s most populous state of New South Wales reported 18 new coronavirus cases overnight, and a Sydney correctional facility underwent deep cleaning after a prisoner tested positive. The inmate had recently been in Victoria and was arrested for driving offences before being bail refused.
Elsewhere in the Asia Pacific region, Japan will from next week lift a ban on the re-entry of some foreign residents, imposed to limit the spread of coronavirus, the foreign ministry has announced. Up to 90,000 foreign nationals with residence permits, including students, business people and trainees, are currently stuck outside Japan after authorities banned re-entry from more than 100 countries in response to the pandemic.
The United States meanwhile, which continues to have by far the highest number of cases and deaths, passed 150,000 fatalities late on Wednesday, according to Johns Hopkins University figures.
California, Florida and Texas, the three largest US states, all set one-day records for fatalities from Covid-19 on Wednesday, a Reuters tally showed, and the Miami-area school district said students would not return to classrooms when the new academic year begins.
The US has registered 10,000 deaths over the past 11 days, the fastest surge since early June, prompting heated debate about the best course forward. The seven-day rolling average of infections has dropped slightly to 65,857 per day according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Here are the other key developments from around the world:
Brazil’s outbreak set a national daily record on Wednesday with 69,074 new confirmed cases and 1,595 related deaths.
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam has warned the city is on the brink of a large-scale outbreak and urged people to stay indoors as much as possible as strict new measures take effect.
In New Zealand, a 32-year-old man has been arrested after attempting to escape a managed quarantine facility.
In Saudi Arabia, a scaled-down hajj has begun. This year, for the first time in modern history, Saudi officials have drastically restricted the number of pilgrims allowed to participate and enforced strict new health measures. Just 10,000 Muslims, all already inside the kingdom, are being allowed to perform the hajj – 0.4% of last year’s 2.5 million attendees from across the globe.