© Reuters. Relaxation of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions in Sydney
By Colin Packham
SYDNEY (Reuters) – An increase in COVID-19 cases in Australia's second largest city could take weeks despite being blocked and ordered to wear masks, Australia's current chief medical officer said Monday as the country prepares for a second wave of infections.
Authorities in the state of Victoria, whose capital Melbourne is partially closed during a new outbreak, reported 275 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, compared to a daily record of 438 three days earlier.
Paul Kelly, Acting Medical Director of Australia, said it would take "weeks" to slow the outbreak to a level that only reached in June when Victoria and the rest of Australia reported single or double-digit infections daily.
"We have learned over time that the time between the introduction of a measure and its effect is at least two weeks and sometimes longer," Kelly told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation radio.
Australia has registered approximately 11,800 coronavirus cases with 123 fatalities, a fraction of what has been observed in other countries. The disease has been effectively eliminated in most Australian countries.
Less than a month ago, Australia was widely announced as the world leader in the fight against COVID-19, but quarantine bugs in Victoria triggered a flare-up in June. An official investigation into the outbreak began on Monday with the hearings.
The Victoria government has sentenced some five million people to partial closure for six weeks, telling Melbourne residents to cover their faces when they have to leave their homes.
Victorian Prime Minister Daniel Andrews said it was too early to explain that such measures flattened the outbreak.
"Until we stabilize this, we cannot talk about a trend," he said, referring to the decline in new cases every day.
The Victorian outbreak and rising daily falls in neighboring New South Wales, the country's most populous state, are fueling fears of a national second wave.
NSW reported 20 new infections on Monday, the highest in three months. The transmission rate in the state is higher than in Victoria, although restrictions on social distance have been tightened.
The NSW authorities were unable to locate some of the clusters, and the state authorities have asked people to avoid unnecessary travel and public transportation.
Prime Minister Gladys Berejiklian said she would consider tightening social distance restrictions in cities like NSW's capital Sydney if the numbers continued to increase in the coming weeks.
Should NSW be forced to introduce new restrictions, this would be a blow to Australia's hopes for a rapid economic recovery. Australia is facing its first recession in almost three decades. Unemployment is at a 22-year high.
Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained on this website is not necessarily real-time or correct. All CFDs (stocks, indices, futures) and forex prices are not provided by exchanges, but by market makers. Therefore, prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price. This means that the prices are indicative and not suitable for trading purposes. Therefore, Fusion Media is not responsible for any trade losses that you may incur from using this data.
Fusion Media or persons dealing with Fusion Media are not liable for any loss or damage caused by reliance on the information contained on this website such as data, offers, diagrams and buy / sell signals. Please be fully informed about the risks and costs associated with trading on the financial markets. This is one of the most risky forms of investment that is possible.