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Australian state to reimpose restrictions as Covid-19 cases increase

Household gatherings will be restricted to five guests from Monday until July 12.

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Restrictions are being reimposed in Victoria (Rick Rycroft/AP)

Restrictions are being reimposed in Victoria (Rick Rycroft/AP)

Restrictions are being reimposed in Victoria (Rick Rycroft/AP)

An Australian state is set to reimpose household restrictions from Monday after recording double-digit increases in Covid-19 cases for a fourth consecutive day.

Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said household gatherings will be restricted to five guests and outdoor gatherings to 10 people until midnight on July 12.

Mr Andrews said Victoria recorded 25 new cases on Saturday, the biggest daily increase in two months.

The planned easing of restrictions for cafes, restaurants and pubs, from a maximum of 20 guests to a maximum of 50, will be deferred for three weeks.

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(PA Graphics)

(PA Graphics)

Press Association Images

(PA Graphics)

Businesses that are set to open for the first time on Monday, including gyms and cinemas, will be allowed to do so but with a maximum of 20 people.

More than half of the new cases in Victoria have come from family-to-family transmission, Mr Andrews said, adding: “I’m frustrated by it. I’m disappointed by it.”

He said the numbers remained low but the state authorities are “acting quickly and early to get back on top of it”.

He flagged the prospect of coronavirus hotspots being forced back into stay-at-home lockdown if local outbreaks become serious.

Victoria state has accounted for 19 of Australia’s 102 deaths from Covid-19, and almost 1,800 of the country’s 7,411 confirmed infections, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

The move came as China’s capital recorded a further drop in coronavirus cases amid tightened containment measures while Brazil surpassed more than 1 million confirmed infections, second only to the United States.

Officials reported 22 new cases in Beijing on Saturday, along with five others elsewhere in China. There are no new deaths and 308 people remain hospitalised for treatment.

South Korea recorded 67 new cases, the largest 24-hour increase in about three weeks. Most of them come from the densely populated Seoul area, where about half of the country’s 51 million people reside.

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Visitors wearing face masks to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus sit on benches while maintaining social distancing at a park in Seoul (Lee Jin-man/AP)

Visitors wearing face masks to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus sit on benches while maintaining social distancing at a park in Seoul (Lee Jin-man/AP)

AP/PA Images

Visitors wearing face masks to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus sit on benches while maintaining social distancing at a park in Seoul (Lee Jin-man/AP)

The head of the World Health Organisation said on Friday the pandemic is “accelerating” and that more than 150,000 cases were reported the day before — the highest single-day number so far.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters in Geneva that nearly half of the newly reported cases were from the Americas, with significant numbers from South Asia and the Middle East.

Brazil’s Health Ministry said the total number of cases had risen by more than 50,000 from the previous day. President Jair Bolsonaro still downplays the risks of the virus after nearly 50,000 deaths in three months. He says the impact of social isolation on Brazil’s economy can be more deadly.

The coronavirus has infected more than 8.5 million people worldwide and killed more than 454,000, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University. The actual number is thought to be much higher because many cases are asymptomatic or go untested.

South Africa and Ethiopia say they are recommending the limited use of the commonly available drug dexamethasone for all Covid-19 patients on ventilators or supplementary oxygen.

South African Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said “this breakthrough is excellent news for us and we are especially fortunate that it came as we are preparing for our upcoming surge” in cases. South Africa has about 30% of the virus cases on the African continent, or more than 87,000.

French authorities are keeping a close eye on signs of an accelerating spread of the coronavirus in Normandy, a region that has until now been spared the worst of the outbreak that has hit Paris and the east of France particularly hard.

PA