Oz state declares disaster, curfew

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA (AP) — The premier of Australia’s hard-hit Victoria state has declared a disaster among sweeping new coronavirus restrictions across Melbourne and elsewhere from yesterday night.

An evening curfew will be implemented across Melbourne from 8pm to 5am. Premier Daniel Andrews said the state of disaster proclamation gave police greater power.

He said 671 new coronavirus cases had been detected since Saturday, including seven deaths. It comes among a steadily increasing toll in both deaths and infections over the past six weeks in Victoria.

“If we don’t make these changes, we’re not going to get through this,” Andrews said.

“We need to do more. That is what these decisions are about.”

He said there would be more announcements about workplaces today, including the closure of certain industries.

“I want to ensure all Victorians — supermarkets, the butcher, the baker, food, beverage, groceries, those types of settings — there will be no impact there,” he said.

Melbourne residents will only be allowed to shop and exercise within five kilometres of their homes. All students across the state will return to home-based learning and child care centres will be closed.

A group of police and soldiers patrol the Docklands area of Melbourne after the announcement of new restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19. PHOTO: AFP

The deaths in Victoria took the national toll to 208.

Also yesterday, New South Wales confirmed its first coronavirus-related death in more than a month as authorities sought to suppress a number of growing clusters at a hotel and several restaurants in Sydney.

India’s coronavirus caseload crossed 1.75 million with another spike of 54,735 in the past 24 hours. The new cases are down from 57,118 on Saturday. The Health Ministry yesterday also reported 853 deaths for a total of 37,364. Top government expert Randeep Guleria said that New Delhi and Mumbai may have crossed their peak levels with declining trends. The month of July alone has accounted for more than 1.1 million cases in India. Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said the case fatality rate is progressively reducing and currently stands at 2.18 per cent, one of the lowest globally. Out of the total active cases, only 0.28 per cent are on ventilators, 1.61 per cent need intensive care support and 2.32 per cent oxygen support.

Confirmed coronavirus cases are hovering at near record levels in Japan, raising worries the pandemic may be growing more difficult to control. The Tokyo government reported 292 new cases yesterday, about half in their 20s. Japan in total reported 1,540 cases on Saturday— the second straight day the number was above 1,500. Numbers are usually fewer over the weekend because of fewer tests. Japan has avoided a total lockdown, encouraging business activity while urging people to wear masks, social distance and work from home.

South Korea has reported 30 additional cases of the coronavirus, most of them associated with international arrivals. The cases announced yesterday by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention brought the national tally to 14,366 with 301 deaths. The agency said eight of the newly confirmed cases were locally infected while the rest came from overseas. South Korea has recently seen an uptick in imported cases, many of them South Korean construction workers airlifted out of virus-ravaged Iraq and crew members of Russia-flagged cargo ships docked in local ports. Health authorities have said imported cases are less threatening as they continue to enforce two-week quarantines on all people arriving from abroad.