US tri-state area imposes quarantine on other states

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New York, New Jersey and Connecticut will fine those defying the rule

UNITED STATES: The governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut on Wednesday ordered travellers from eight other US states to be quarantined for two weeks on arrival, as Covid-19 infections surged.

US infections are approaching record daily levels, with more than 35,900 cases recorded in 24 hours, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. This is the second greatest daily increase in cases since early March.

The US now has some 2.4 million cases. Nearly half of the 50 states have seen an increase in infections over the past two weeks, with some - such as Texas and Florida - posting daily records.

Earlier on Wednesday, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said the tough new tri-state quarantine mandate was "the smart thing to do".

"We have taken our people, the three of us from these three states, through hell and back, and the last thing we need to do right now is subject our folks to another round," Mr Murphy said of the three north-eastern governors, all Democrats.

White House spokesman Judd Deere said he did not believe the quarantine applied to President Donald Trump, who just returned from a visit to Arizona and was scheduled to be in New Jersey this weekend.

"The President is not a civilian. Anyone who is in close proximity to him, including staff, guests and press, are tested for Covid-19 and confirmed to be negative," Mr Deere said.

The 14-day quarantine applies to visitors from mostly southern states: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and Utah, as well as tri-state residents returning from those areas. Those caught defying the quarantine rule face a US$1,000 (S$1,390) fine for a first offence and US$5,000 for repeat offences, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said.

Australia is also dealing with rising cases as it recorded the biggest daily rise in two months. Most of the cases are in Melbourne in Victoria state.

The state said 33 people had tested positive in 24 hours, marking nine days of double digit new cases in the state. It has around 200 current cases out of a country total of 270.

Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews said the authorities are beginning a testing blitz across the worst-affected suburbs.

"We have ambulances and other vans that will literally be at the end of people's streets," Mr Andrews told reporters.

"We will see these (case) numbers go up in coming days."

The surge in new cases comes just weeks after Australia began easing restrictions, and the authorities believe the increase in new cases stemmed from family get-togethers attended by people with mild symptoms.

Australia's two biggest retail chains, Woolworths Group and Coles, have imposed fresh limits on how much customers can buy for specific goods amid a spate of panic buying. Australia now has 104 deaths from just over 7,500 infections. - REUTERS, AFP