Asia Minute: Australia’s COVID-19 Epicenter

Jul 31, 2020

It’s been three weeks since Australia’s second largest city imposed strict rules to control an outbreak of COVID-19. The city is half-way through a scheduled lockdown period, but the virus is not cooperating.

The center of Australia’s COVID-19 universe is Melbourne in the state of Victoria. It’s got the most cases, the most deaths and the biggest ongoing problem with the virus.

Three weeks ago, the premier of Victoria state imposed what the country calls a “stage three lockdown” on Melbourne and surrounding areas. There are only four reasons to legally leave your home: shopping for food and essential items, care and caregiving, exercise, and work or study. But if it’s possible to work or study from home, you must.

Restaurants are only open for takeout; state borders are controlled.

New cases had declined in the area, but have reversed course and increased in the last couple of days.

On Wednesday, the state of Victoria recorded 295 new cases.

Thursday, that number more than doubled to 723, with 13 deaths — the highest daily death toll for any state in Australia since the start of the pandemic.

This morning, another 627 cases were announced — along with 8 deaths.

Victoria’s premier Daniel Andrews warned restrictions are likely to be extended beyond that initial six-week period — saying, “these numbers are still far too high and we could not open up with these numbers. We could not open up even with significantly less than these numbers.”