Melbourne holds off on easing amid new outbreak

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA (AP) — A COVID-19 outbreak in the north of Melbourne has led health authorities in Australia’s Victoria state to hold off on any further easing of restrictions in the beleaguered city.

Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews withheld any announcement on an easing yesterday as the state awaits results on 3,000 people who were tested in the city’s north in the past 24 hours.

He described it as a “cautious pause” – not a setback – to rule out there was not widespread community transmission linked to the cluster.

Among the current restrictions are mandatory wearing of masks and no travelling beyond 25 kilometres from home. At the start of the second wave of cases two months ago, Andrews instituted an overnight curfew and shut down most businesses.

“I know it is frustrating,” Andrews said. “I know people are keen to have a long and detailed list of changes to the rules. It is not appropriate for us to do that now.” Victoria reported seven new coronavirus cases yesterday, with six linked to the latest outbreak, which involves 39 people across 11 households. No additional deaths kept the state toll at 817 and the national toll at 905.

A woman walks past a display of photos outside the Royal Melbourne Hospital. PHOTO: AFP