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Surge in Australia's Victoria Covid-19 Cases Prompts Addition of Hospital Beds

July 17, 2020, 07.30 PM

MELBOURNE, — On Thursday, Australia’s Victoria Covid-19 cases reached 317 new infections in a day prompting government officials to add hospital beds.

Victoria state reported a daily record of 428 new Covid-19 cases on July 17 amid increased testing in the Melbourne area.

The local government has sought to monitor the transmission of the Covid-19 virus.

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On Friday, the majority of new Covid-19 cases and three Covid-19 deaths were in Melbourne.

There is a nationwide total of 116 Covid-19 deaths reported so far in Australia as of July 17.

As Victoria's Covid-19 cases surge, the government has responded by reducing non-urgent surgeries.

The move is expected to allow hospitals to increase their hospital bed capacity for Covid-19 patients, according to Australia’s Health Minister Jenny Mikakos.

Melbourne and neighboring semi-rural Mitchell Shire have been locked down since last week and authorities hope the restrictions will soon bring a plateauing of infections.

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Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews stated that it is too early to tell if the imposed six-week lockdown in Melbourne is effective because it was only a week old.

On Friday, Daniel Andrews says only five of the new cases are in parts of the state not in lockdown.

He says the government is increasing the number of testing sites outside Melbourne.

“It will take some time to bring that stability to the numbers and then of course to start to see a pattern where they are driven down,” Andrews said.

Australia's highest daily tally before Thursday was 288 in Victoria on July 10.

Both exceed the previous record of 212 in New South Wales state during the first peak of the pandemic.

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“It’s a big number. It needs to turn around," Victoria Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said of the 317 new cases.

“In some ways, I expect it to turn around this week. But as I’ve always said, it’s no guarantee. It’s upon all of us to be able to turn this number around," Sutton continued.

Given the week the lockdown has been in effect, the incubation period of the virus and the time for cases to be confirmed and counted, “we would really expect a plateauing in the next couple of days,” Sutton said.

“But we cannot be complacent and expect that’s going to happen automatically,” said Sutton.

New South Wales, the only other state regarded as an active Australian virus hot spot, reported 10 new cases on Thursday.

Australia enjoyed similar success as neighboring New Zealand in suppressing the spread of Covid-19 in the early weeks of the pandemic.

Australia adopted a suppression strategy while New Zealand pursued full eradication.

The strategy has succeeded in New Zealand, which has gone 76 days without a community-spread infection and has active cases only among quarantined people who traveled abroad.

Just as Australia was lifting its lockdown restrictions, breaches of infection controls in hotel quarantine led to a community spread in Victoria state. 

(Writer: AP) 


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