Rise in coronavirus cases in NSW and Victoria stoke second-wave fears

This article is more than 12 months old

SYDNEY: New South Wales, Australia's most populous state, reported 20 new infections yesterday, the highest in three months.

The transmission rate is higher than in neighbouring Victoria, despite social distancing restrictions being tightened.

State authorities have been unable to trace some of the clusters and have urged people to avoid unnecessary travel and public transport.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she would consider tightening social distancing restrictions in cities like Sydney if the numbers continue to rise over the next few weeks.

Should the state be forced to implement new restrictions, it would be a hammer blow to Australia's hopes for a quick economic recovery.

Already, it is facing its first recession in nearly three decades, with job losses at a 22-year high.

Coupled with the surge in Melbourne, the resurgence has stoked fears of a second wave.

The rise in cases in Australia's second-biggest city could take weeks to subside despite a lockdown and orders to wear masks, Australia's acting chief medical officer said yesterday.

The authorities in Melbourne, the capital of Victoria state, reported 275 cases yesterday, down from a daily record of 438 three days earlier.

Australia's acting chief medical officer Paul Kelly said it would take "weeks" to slow the outbreak to levels seen as recently as last month, when Victoria and the rest of Australia reported single or double-digit daily infections.

"We have learned over time that the time between introducing a measure and seeing its effect is at least two weeks and sometimes longer," he said.

Victoria's government has ordered about five million people into a partial lockdown for six weeks and told residents around Melbourne to cover their faces if they have to leave their homes.

Australia has about 11,800 cases with a death toll of 123, a fraction of what it is in many other countries. - REUTERS