People walk in front of the Sydney Opera House in Sydney
People walk in front of the Sydney Opera House in Sydney

Australia has first Covid-19 death in more than a month, second wave worry stirs

By Renju Jose And Colin Packham Time of article published Jun 24, 2020

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SYDNEY - Australia's second most populous

state on Wednesday said a man in his 80s died overnight from the

coronavirus, the country's first death from the virus in more

than a month, as concerns about a second wave of infections saw

thousands queue for Covid-19 tests and supermarkets impose new

restrictions.

Victoria state reported 20 overnight cases, Victoria Chief

Health Officer Brett Sutton told reporters in Melbourne, taking

the state tally to nearly 1,900 after recording 17 on Tuesday

and 16 the day before.

"When we get additional cases, there will be a risk of

people dying or be at risk of further cases being hospitalised

and going to intensive care," Sutton said. "That's why we need

to get on top of numbers."

The upswing in new cases in Victoria has sparked fears of a

second wave, with 241 cases in the state so far identified as

community transmission, an increase of eight from Tuesday.

Victoria has asked for assistance from the country's

military, a spokeswoman for Premier Daniel Andrews said.

Those personnel will assist Victoria in enforcing a 14-day

quarantine requirement imposed on all Australians and permanent

residents returning from overseas.

Authorities in Victoria, which has become the virus hotspot

in Australia, have been trying to contain the spread of the

virus in half a dozen suburbs in the largest city of Melbourne

hit by a spike in cases.

Authorities believe the surge in new cases has been caused

by family get-togethers attended by people with mild symptoms.

The state on the weekend extended its state of emergency for

another month and reimposed restrictions on gatherings after

seeing a sharp rise in daily infections.

The uptick in new infections has seen thousands of people

seek Covid-19 tests. With elevated demand, police shut one

drive-by clinic 20 minutes after it opened as it quickly became

overwhelmed.

Testing facilities that have been able to stay open have

reported wait times of up to four hours, though authorities said

anyone who wants a test will be accommodated.

The concern has also seen people rush to supermarkets in

Victoria, with Australia's biggest supermarket chain, Woolworths

Group, imposing fresh limits on specific goods in the state.

Shoppers in the state will be limited to two items of

products including toilet paper, hand sanitiser, flour, sugar,

pasta, long-life milk, eggs and rice.

"While we have healthy stock levels to draw on, we’re taking

this precautionary step to help prevent excessive buying and

support appropriate social distancing in our Victorian stores,"

said Claire Peters, managing director of Woolworths'

supermarkets division.

In March, Australia’s major grocers put strict limits on

purchases of toilet paper as shoppers stripped shelves in a rush

of panic buying spurred by fears over a coronavirus lockdown.

Despite the spike in cases in Victoria, the neighbouring

state of New South Wales (NSW) said it would not introduce a

hard border closure between the states.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, however, urged people in the

state to avoid travelling to its southern neighbour.

After enforcing restrictions early in the coronavirus

outbreak compared to most other countries, Australia began to

ease its lockdown last month to revive its economy after a

significant slowdown in infection rates.

Australia has so far escaped a high number of casualties

from the new coronavirus, with just over 7,500 infections and

103 deaths, aided by strict lockdown measures and social

distancing rules. 

Reuters

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