SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia recorded its deadliest day for the coronavirus pandemic on Wednesday and the largest daily increase in infections in three days, hoping a second wave of attacks on Victoria can be stabilized.
Victoria reported 21 deaths – two more than the previous deadliest days earlier this week – and 410 new cases in the last 24 hours, ending a run of three days in a row with new infections below 400.
A cluster of infections in Melbourne, the Victorian capital and Australia’s second largest city, last week forced authorities to impose a night curfew, tighten restrictions on people’s daily movements and order large parts of the state economy to close.
Victorian Prime Minister Daniel Andrews said that while the number of cases was declining, the effects of the strict new lockdown measures had not yet emerged in the cases.
“We all know that a week is not the life cycle of this virus … and our experts remain steadfast given that this will reduce the numbers,”
Only Victoria and the country’s most populous state, New South Wales (NSW), reported recent COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, with a total of 428 infections detected in the past 24 hours.
The virus has been effectively eliminated outside Victoria and NSW.
Authorities in NSW are rushing to track down infections linked to a new cluster at a school in Sydney, which has raised fears of more widespread societal transmission than previously known in the country’s largest city.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said companies could face additional restrictions to prevent further clusters from developing.
“We have really given a period of service to companies, to organizations, to various facilities to increase their COVID-secure plans and if they do not, we must go a step further,” Berejiklian said in a media briefing.
Australia has reported more than 22,000 infections and 352 deaths from the virus, far fewer per capita than many other developed countries.
Reporting by Renju Jose and Colin Packham; Edited by Stephen Coates and Lincoln Feast.