The Latest: Australia’s most populous state to close border

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A passenger has her temperature checked to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus as some routes for the Traditional Jeepney buses were opened to help public transportation while the government slowly eases lockdown in metropolitan Manila, Philippines on Friday, July 3, 2020. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

SYDNEY, Australia — The leader of Australia’s most populous state says her government’s decision to close its border with hard-hit Victoria state marks a new phase in the country’s coronavirus pandemic.

New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian has long been a critic of states that close their borders to her state when its capital Sydney had Australia’s largest numbers of COVID-19 cases.

But she had changed her stance on keeping Australia’s internal borders open because the situation in the Victorian capital Melbourne was unprecedented.

The overwhelming majority of news cases detected in Melbourne in recent weeks were from community transmission. Everywhere else in Australia, the vast majority of cases were infected overseas or had been infected by a returned traveler, Berejiklian said.

“What is occurring in Victoria has not yet occurred anywhere else in Australia,” she said. “It’s a new part of the pandemic and, as such, it requires a new type of response.”

New South Wales police will close the Victorian border from late Tuesday. Some flights and trains services would continue for travellers who are given permits and exemptions, Berejiklian said.

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