Residents of Australia’s second most populous city, Melbourne, must wear masks when leaving home from Wednesday as the country posted a record rise in novel coronavirus cases while New South Wales state was on “high alert”.
Australia recorded 501 new coronavirus infections in the past 24 hours, its highest since the epidemic took hold in March. Its death toll also rose by 2 to 128.
Victoria state, of which Melbourne is capital, accounted for most of the new cases, with 484.
Worryingly, more than half the people who tested positive for the virus in Victoria between July 7 and July 21, or more than 2,000 people, did not isolate, Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said.
“That means people have felt unwell and just gone about their business,” Andrews told reporters.
“They have gone out shopping. They have gone to work. They have been at the height of their infectivity and they have just continued on as usual.”
Andrews warned that the number of cases would stay on an upward trajectory if people did not self-isolate after getting tested.
“And a six-week shutdown will not be for six weeks. It will run for much longer than that.”
Cross-border travel between Victoria and New South Wales (NSW) will only be allowed for work, education or medical care, after the border was closed this month for the first time in 100 years.
Staff and students travelling from Victoria into NSW to attend boarding schools or universities are required to self-isolate for two weeks and test negative for the virus, while seasonal workers from Victoria are barred.
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