‘Genuine concern’: Australian health authorities on high alert as COVID cases spike

Concerns continue to grow about the coronavirus outbreak in Victoria as the number of cases around the world topped 10 million with the death toll fast approaching a grim 500,000.

Just a fortnight ago, Australia looked like it had the pandemic under control, enabling restrictions to gradually be lifted.

But in the past 12 days Victoria has recorded double-digit increases daily in new cases and a total of 90 over the weekend alone.

There were 41 new cases on Saturday and 49 on Sunday, the highest daily number since April.

“The latest numbers are of genuine concern,” Deputy Chief Medical Officer Michael Kidd told reporters in Canberra on Sunday.

But he wouldn’t go as far as describing the Victorian outbreak as a “second wave”.

Virus in Victoria

Victoria’s fight against COVID-19 has intensified with the decision to implement mandatory testing for returned travellers before they are allowed out of quarantine in hotels.

The government says people in quarantine will be tested twice – firstly on day three and then again on day 11 of the 14-day quarantine period.

Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews has announced 49 new cases.
Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews has announced 49 new cases. 

“Those who refuse to comply with testing will be required to remain in quarantine for a further 10 days to ensure they pose no risk of introducing coronavirus to the Victorian community,” Premier Daniel Andrews announced on Sunday.

The decision follows a sharp spike in cases in Victoria, which is the only state to have reported cases in the double digits.

On Sunday, 49 new cases were reported – four from known outbreaks, 26 detected through routine testing while the other 19 were under investigation.

Around the world

Global coronavirus cases have now exceeded 10 million according to a Reuters tally, marking a grim milestone in the spread of the respiratory disease that has so far killed almost half a million people in seven months.

The figure reached on Sunday is roughly double the number of severe influenza illnesses recorded annually, according to the World Health Organisation.

people waiting for covid-19 test in China
China has reported 17 new coronavirus cases, mostly in Beijing. 

The milestone comes as many hard-hit countries are easing lockdowns while making extensive alterations to work and social life that could last for a year or more until a vaccine is available.

Some countries are experiencing a resurgence in infections, leading authorities to partially reinstate lockdowns, in what experts say could be a recurring pattern in the coming months and into 2021.

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