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Asia Minute: Australia Zeroes in On COVID-19 Hotspot

James Ross/AAP Image via AP
Police officers and healthcare workers are stationed outside a public housing tower that is locked down as a Coronavirus hotspot in Melbourne, Australia, Wednesday, July 8, 2020.

Increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases have led some states to scale back their plans on re-opening. That's also happening in parts of some countries — including Australia.


Australia’s second largest city is back on lockdown.

Residents of Melbourne and surrounding areas in Victoria State will have to stay at home for the next six weeks unless they’re conducting “essential business.” That affects about 5 million people — as well as the border between Victoria and neighboring New South Wales, home to Australia’s largest city, Sydney.

Reuters reports it’s the first time that border’s been closed since the flu epidemic of 1919.

There are exceptions to the shutdown for some cross-border business, and for people who live and work in border communities. But for everyone else who crosses the border from Victoria to New South Wales, the next stop is a quarantine of 14 days.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation tallied up 55 roads that cross the border, as well as what it calls “several river and wilderness crossings.”

The government says about 650 police officers will help with border checks, along with some 350 soldiers and drones patrolling the border.

Australia has been relatively successful in dealing with the coronavirus, but Tuesday saw the biggest one-day spike since early April.

Of 199 new cases, 191 of them were in the state of Victoria.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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