World

Australia scrambles to contain new cluster, quarantines 4,000 people

SYDNEY : Australian authorities conducted mass tests yesterday and about 4,000 people were confined to quarantine in the hope of stifling a new cluster of coronavirus cases after hopes that it had been largely eradicated.

South Australia reimposed curbs on Monday after detecting 21 cases, most of which were acquired locally. The cases were the first local transmissionin nine days.

South Australia Premier Steven Marshall said testing had identified five new cases in the past 24 hours, while 14 people were suspected to be infected and were awaiting test results.

"We are not out of the woods. We are just at the beginning stages of dealing with this particular cluster," Mr Marshall told reporters in Adelaide.

All cases could be traced back to an Australian who arrived in South Australia from overseas on Nov 2 and entered mandatory quarantine in a hotel, he added.

Hotel workers are believed to have got the virus after touching a surface contaminated with it.

The authorities fear the virus could have spread beyond hotel workers and their close contacts, prompting a mandate that confined about 4,000 people to their homes.

Meanwhile, South Korea will impose stricter social distancing rules for the greater Seoul area a month after easing them, officials said yesterday.

The daily case tally hovered above 200 for a fourth consecutive day yesterday. - REUTERS

WORLD