Australian state extends state of emergency

The state of emergency will be extended by 4 weeks to Sept 13

SYDNEY • Victoria, the state at the epicentre of Australia’s coronavirus outbreak, extended a state of emergency as the death toll from the disease surpassed 300.

The state of emergency will be extended by four weeks to Sept 13, Victoria’s Premier Daniel Andrews said during his daily Covid-19 briefing yesterday. The state reported 279 new cases and 16 deaths, the health department said. Eleven of the cases were linked to aged-care facilities, facing a major crisis amid the spread of the virus.

Andrews warned against complacency as infection numbers slowed. The Stage 4 lockdown was working and infection numbers were heading in the right direction, he said. While he was cautiously optimistic, he said Victorians didn’t have “the luxury of backing off”.

Local media reported that Melburnians were out in droves on Saturday to take advantage of good weather despite the strict restrictions, which include a curfew in Melbourne.

“They speak to a strategy that is working,” Andrews said. “At the same time, no one day necessarily guarantees the outcome that is a long hard slog. This is an endurance race, it is not a sprint in any way.”

The state reported 372 cases last Friday and 303 on Saturday as new infections continue trending down after hitting a daily record of 725 infections on Aug 5. Victoria reported 14 deaths last Friday and four on Saturday. Its total number of Covid-19 fatalities is 309 (at press time).

Australia’s second-most populous state is approaching almost six months of being in a state of emergency after first declaring it on March 16 to combat the spread of the virus. — Bloomberg