Coronavirus Disaster Declared in Melbourne as Cases Surge Globally

The U.S. has entered “a new phase” of COVID-19 outbreaks with rural communities now seeing widespread infections, Dr. Deborah Birx said.

By Linda Givetash and Reuters

Australia’s second-biggest city, Melbourne, already under night curfew, announced fresh restrictions on industries including retail and construction Monday in a bid to contain a resurgence of the coronavirus.

On Sunday, the government declared a state of disaster in Melbourne, forcing nonessential businesses to close for six weeks.

The measures come as countries around the globe grapple with surging cases.

From Wednesday night, Melbourne, the capital of Australia’s Victoria state, will close retail, some manufacturing and administrative businesses as part of a six-week lockdown.

Melbourne emerges from COVID-19 curfew with warning of worse to come

AUG. 3, 202001:03

The new measures are expected to double the number of jobs affected by the coronavirus restrictions to around 500,000 and along with those working from home, will keep 1 million people from moving around for work, Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews said.

Victoria state officials said Monday that 429 new infections were confirmed, while 13 more people died overnight.

“It’s heartbreaking. This pandemic, this virus is taking a heavy toll and now’s the time, as it has been throughout this pandemic, that we continue to provide support to one another,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.

Australia has seen more than 18,000 cases of the virus and 221 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. But it’s only a small fraction of the more than 18 million cases confirmed worldwide, which has led to at least 689,000 deaths.

The United States continues to see the highest number of cases topping 4.6 million Monday and more than 156,000 deaths, according to NBC News’ tracking.

The White House coronavirus task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said Sunday that the country has entered “a new phase” of outbreaks with “extraordinarily widespread” infections in rural areas, as well as cities.

“What we are seeing today is different from March and April,” Birx told CNN’s “State of the Union.” “To everybody who lives in a rural area: ‘You are not immune or protected from this virus.'”

The number of people traveling for their summer holidays is another cause for concern, she said.

“If you have chosen to go on vacation into a hot spot, you really need to come back and protect those with co-morbidities and assume you’re infected,” she said.

Leading the world’s caseload after the U.S. and Brazil, India saw another spike of 52,972 new cases in 24 hours, pushing the country over the 1.8 million mark Monday. The health ministry also reported 771 deaths in 24 hours, taking total fatalities up to 38,135.

Health workers wearing personal protective equipment sit inside a mobile testing bus to collect swab samples from residents for a free coronavirus test in Hyderabad, India, on Monday.NOAH SEELAM / AFP – Getty Images

The rush for a vaccine continued apace, meanwhile.

The Serum Institute of India received approval from the country’s health authority Monday for conducting phase two and phase three trials of a COVID-19 vaccine candidate developed by Britain’s University of Oxford. At least 1,600 adults will participate in the trials.

A moderate lockdown was announced in the Philippine capital Manila and outlying provinces Monday after medical groups appealed for the move as coronavirus infections surge alarmingly.

The number of cases in the Philippines surged past 103,000 Sunday and is second-most in Southeast Asia. Effective Tuesday, mass public transport will be barred and only essential travel will be allowed — although leaders of nearly 100 medical organizations made a joint call for even tighter restrictions to give the health system “a timeout” to avoid becoming overwhelmed.

While many countries have seen rising cases, in China’s far northwestern region of Xinjiang, a recent outbreak is continuing to subside with 28 new cases reported Monday.

The outbreak of 590 cases so far has been concentrated in the capital, Urumqi, where authorities have conducted mass testing, cut public transport, isolated some communities and restricted travel.

No new deaths were reported, leaving China’s total at 4,634 among 84,428 reported cases of COVID-19.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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