Australia restricts number of returnees as coronavirus surges
SYDNEY/MELBOURNE (AUSTRALIA) – Australian prime minister Scott Morrison said on Friday that the country will reduce the number of citizens allowed to return from abroad by half each week. This comes as authorities are struggling to halt the spread of COVID-19 outbreak in the country’s second most populous city of Melbourne.
On Friday, the state of Victoria recorded as many as 288 new cases of infection, a record daily hike for any part of the country since the pandemic began. This has triggered alarm bells about community transmission in a country where most cases are traced to returnees from overseas.
“The news from Victoria remains very concerning,” Morrison said.
Since March, Australia has permitted only citizens and permanent residents to enter the country. They have to undergo a 14-day quarantine in hotels, which is paid for by state governments.
From Monday, the country will cap the figures at 4,000 returnees each week and they will have to pay for their quarantine in hotels.
“The decision that we took… was to ensure that we could put our focus on the resources needed to do the testing and tracing and not have to have resources diverted to other tasks,” Morrison said.
Earlier this week, neighbouring New Zealand introduced steps to place curbs on the number of citizens returning from overseas.
The surge in the number of cases in Melbourne has led to 5 million Australians being forced to stay at home. Other states have banned the entry of Victorians.
Australia has also slowed the opening of a travel bubble with New Zealand.
(Photos syndicated via Reuters)
This story has been edited by BH staff and is published from a syndicated field