World

Concern over new Sydney cluster as Australia's virus cases surge

SYDNEY: Sydney residents were warned yesterday to put the brakes on partying as a new coronavirus cluster emerged at a city pub on the heels of a major outbreak in Melbourne.

New South Wales state reported 14 new cases of Covid-19 yesterday.

Community transmission accounted for eight of the cases, while the rest were people who returned from overseas and are in hotel quarantine or have returned from Victoria.

The bulk of these community transmission cases were people who recently visited a pub in south-west Sydney, at the Crossroads Hotel.

"The concern is that this hotel is used by freight drivers who are transporting essential supplies across the country," Australia's deputy chief medical officer Michael Kidd told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

"They are not being tested."

In a bid to curtail the spread, the authorities urged anyone who visited the pub to isolate for two weeks and get tested.

New South Wales police assistant commissioner Tony Cooke yesterday also slammed the "moronic behaviour of people at dance parties", after local media published footage of large private get-togethers in Sydney's wealthy eastern suburbs.

City residents are allowed a maximum of 20 visitors to their homes under restrictions which have been gradually eased in recent weeks as the number of infections dwindled.

The state's police minister David Elliott warned that if the situation was not brought under control, pubs could be closed again.

"If we have to close hotels and clubs again, the patrons will have to take some ownership of that," he told a press conference yesterday.

"I will, however, work to my dying breath to make sure that that doesn't happen."

Melbourne entered a six-week lockdown on Thursday, and surrounding Victoria state was sealed off from the rest of the country in an effort to contain the virus.

The authorities reported 177 new infections in and around Melbourne yesterday, marking a week of triple-digit increases.

Australia has recorded just under 10,000 coronavirus cases and 108 fatalities.

Most states and regions have reported few or no new daily cases of the disease in recent weeks. - AFP, REUTERS

WORLD