Officials probing if spike in Tasmania cases due to illegal party, Latest World News - The New Paper

Officials probing if spike in Tasmania cases due to illegal party

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MELBOURNE: Australian officials are investigating if an illegal social gathering of health workers is behind a spike in coronavirus cases in the island state of Tasmania, as the government forecast national unemployment to hit 10 per cent by mid-year.

Tasmania Premier Pete Gutwein said yesterday there has been a 50 per cent spike in the state's Covid-19 cases since Thursday, even as the rate of reported new infections continued to significantly slow across the rest of the country.

Local media reported that Australia's Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy referred to an "illegal dinner party" of medical workers in Tasmania as responsible for the rise in cases to 150, during a briefing with New Zealand officials.

"I accept that this is a serious allegation," Mr Gutwein said.

"I've asked the Tasmania Police to investigate this matter, and that will be started today."

The probe came as Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed the government expects unemployment to double from the current 5.1 per cent to 10 per cent by the end of June, which would mark the first time it has hit double digits since 1994.

That translates to around 700,000 people without jobs, the Treasury said.

Australia has reported around 6,350 Covid-19 cases and 41 deaths, although the rate is slowing. - REUTERS, AFP