Asia Today: Australian state's cases spike, borders to shut

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Women hold signs outside housing commission apartments under lockdown in Melbourne, Australia, on Monday, July 6, 2020. The leader of Australias most populous state says her governments decision to close its border with hard-hit Victoria state marks a new phase in the countrys coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Andy Brownbill)

MELBOURNE – The hard-hit Australian state of Victoria recorded two deaths and its highest-ever daily increase in coronavirus cases on Monday as authorities prepare to close its border with New South Wales.

The death of the two men, one in his 60s and the other in his 90s, brings the national death toll from COVID-19 to 106.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said of the 127 new cases, 53 were among 3,000 people who have been confined by police to their apartments in nine public housing blocks since Saturday.

Andrews said the high number of cases reflected a daily record number of tests exceeding 24,500.

Andrews also announced that the state border with New South Wales will be closed from late Tuesday night in an agreement between the two state premiers and Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Morrison had previously opposed states closing their borders.

It will be the first time Australia’s two most populous states have closed their border since the pandemic began.

New South Wales had previously banned travel from dozens of Melbourne suburbs that were locked down last week for a month due to high rates of infection.

The leader of Australia’s most populous state said her government’s decision to close its border with hard-hit Victoria marked a new phase in the country’s outbreak.