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Australian state reimposes Covid-19 restrictions, eyes 'localised' lockdowns

People had begun returning to Melbourne's city centre with a relaxing of the Covid-19 rules, Victoria, Australia, 17 June 2020.
People had begun returning to Melbourne's city centre with a relaxing of the Covid-19 rules, Victoria, Australia, 17 June 2020. AFP - WILLIAM WEST

Australia's state of Victoria is set to reimpose coronavirus restrictions after it recorded its highest daily rise in more than two months. Household gatherings are to be limited to a maximum of five guests – only in worst-hit areas – but draconian measures could be reinstated if the measures aren't respected.  

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Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said 25 new cases were recorded on Saturday, marking the fourth consecutive day of double-digit increase in the state. 

The new localised household limitations, as well as restrictions on outdoor gatherings to a maximum of 10 people, would come into effect on Monday and remain in place until 12 July. 

He warned that a return to strict lockdown could be imposed in hot spots or areas where measures aren't strictly observed. 

'Frustrated, disappointed'

An improving Covid-19 trend in Victoria had the state eyeing a new relaxation of restrictions in pubs and restaurants, increasing the maximum of 20 customers to 50. This has now been delayed for at least three weeks.

Family-to-family transmission has been identified as the culprit in more than 50 percent of Victoria's new cases. “I’m frustrated by it. I’m disappointed by it," said Andrews. 

The state of Victoria accounts for 19 of Australia’s 102 coronavirus deaths, and around 1,800 of the 7,411 infections so far confirmed, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University.

The developments come as the World Health Organization warned of a "new and dangerous phase" of the coronavirus pandemic.

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