Australian state records record 288 new coronavirus cases

Firefighters dressed in personal protective equipment prepare to distribute food at a locked down public housing tower in Melbourne on July 7, 2020. (AAP via Reuters)
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Updated 10 July 2020

Australian state records record 288 new coronavirus cases

  • The previous high for a 24-hour period was 212 on March 28
  • Australia has recorded more than 9,000 COVID-19 cases

MELBOURNE, Australia: Australia’s coronavirus hot spot Victoria recorded 288 new cases on Friday, the largest number of any state since the pandemic began, and authorities warned the spread could worsen.
Victoria, Australia’s second-most populous state after neighboring New South Wales, has been cut off with border closures by other states. All states and territories but New South Wales had eradicated community transmission of the virus, but Victoria-linked infections are spreading.
“Certainly 288 new cases today is a pretty ugly number,” Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said.
The previous high for a 24-hour period was 212 on March 28 at the peak of Australia’s first wave of infections and during a national lockdown.
Victoria hopes a second lockdown in Melbourne, the nation’s second most populous city with 5 million people, will curb the spread. It was imposed Wednesday and will last six weeks.
The Victoria tally reflected a new record of more than 37,500 tests in a day, state Premier Daniel Andrews said.
The benefit of the lockdown across Melbourne and a part of its outskirts will not be apparent in the infection numbers for more than a week, Sutton said.
“We may well get worse numbers to follow,” before it gets better, he said.
But Sutton said Australia was still tracking comparatively well through the pandemic, referring to the United States which has a population 13-times larger than Australia’s 26 million people.
“Our numbers are the numbers that the US gets every 10 minutes,” Sutton said. “We are still in a fortunate position and we have gone to a lockdown at this juncture in order not to have those kinds of pressures manifest in our system.”
Australian states have banned people crossing their borders if they have been in Victoria in the past two weeks.
Victoria has banned international arrivals at Melbourne Airport after breaches of hotel quarantine in Melbourne were blamed for the country’s only widespread transmission of COVID-19.
Australia will more than halve the rate at which its citizens and permanent residents can return home on international flights to reduce numbers in hotel quarantine, the federal and state governments have agreed.
The number allowed to return to Australia each week would be reduced by more than 4,000 from next week.
Sydney, Australia’s largest city, has been carrying a disproportionate burden of hotel quarantine that is currently paid for by the New South Wales government.
Queensland, to the north, charges travelers 2,800 Australian dollars ($1,900) for their two weeks in hotel quarantine, making Sydney are more attractive destination for Queenslanders to return from overseas.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison other states are moving to charge for hotel quarantine, given that Australia has been urging citizens for weeks to return as soon as possible. Outside Victoria, most of Australia’s COVID-19 cases are detected in overseas travelers quarantined in hotels.
Victoria on Friday became the first state to recommend its residents wear masks.
Residents are advised to wear masks if they can’t maintain 1.5 meters (5 feet) social distancing such as when they’re on public transport or in supermarkets.
Australia has recorded more than 9,000 COVID-19 cases and 106 patients have died.


Pompeo inks deal for US troop move from Germany to Poland

Updated 34 sec ago

Pompeo inks deal for US troop move from Germany to Poland

  • Some 4,500 US troops are currently based in Poland
  • Pompeo has used his Europe trip to warn the region’s young democracies about threats posed by Russia and China

WARSAW: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has sealed a defense cooperation deal with Polish officials that will pave the way for the redeployment of American troops from Germany to Poland.
In Warsaw on Saturday at the end of a four-nation tour of central and eastern Europe, Pompeo and Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Błaszczak signed an Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement that sets out the legal framework for the additional troop presence.
The pact supplements an existing NATO Status of Forces Agreement and allows for the enhancement and modernization of existing capabilities and facilities by granting US forces to access additional Polish military installations. It also sets out a formula for sharing the logistical and infrastructure costs of an expanded US presence in the country.
Some 4,500 US troops are currently based in Poland, but about 1,000 more are to be added, under a bilateral decision announced last year. Last month, in line with President Donald Trump’s demand to reduce troop numbers in Germany, the Pentagon announced that some 12,000 troops would be withdrawn from Germany with about 5,600 moving to other countries in Europe, including Poland.
In addition, several US military commands will be moved out of Germany, including the US Army V Corps overseas headquarters that will relocate to Poland next year.
Trump has long and loudly complained that Germany does not spend enough on defense and has repeatedly accused Germany of failing to pay NATO bills, which is a misstatement of the issue. NATO nations have pledged to dedicate 2 percent of their gross domestic product.
In addition, several US military commands will be moved out of Germany, including the US Army V Corps overseas headquarters that will relocate to Poland next year.
Saturday’s signing came just a day after the Trump administration suffered an embarrassing diplomatic loss at the United Nations when its proposal to indefinitely extend an arms embargo on Iran was soundly defeated in a UN Security Council vote that saw only one country side with the US Pompeo will visit that country, the Dominican Republic, on Sunday for the inauguration of its new president.
Pompeo has used his Europe trip to warn the region’s young democracies about threats posed by Russia and China and has received a warm welcome. In Poland, the reception was particularly kind given the friendship between Trump and conservative Polish President Andrzej Duda, who was sworn in for a second five-year term earlier this month after a hotly contested election.
Many of Duda’s Law and Justice party’s policies have put Poland at odds with the European Union, which is concerned that government efforts to reshape the judiciary and other actions have eroded the rule of law and democracy in the EU member country.