SYDNEY – More Australian states and territories are reimposing travel restrictions to prevent the spreading of the coronavirus from new outbreaks in New South Wales and Victoria states.
The Australian Capital Territory has shut out non-residents who have been on the northern beaches of Sydney, where the outbreaks are most concentrated, Greater Sydney and other smaller centers, unless they have an exemption.
The island state of Tasmania has barred anyone directly linked to the latest Victorian cases, listing exposure sites where confirmed cases are known to have been. The move followed Tasmania’s declaration of Greater Sydney and the Wollongong area south of Sydney as medium-risk zones, requiring travelers to quarantine for 14 days on arrival, while those from Sydney’s northern beaches are barred from entering.
Victoria reported three new cases of community transmission on Sunday, down from Saturday’s 10. In total, there have been 21 locally acquired Victorian cases over recent days, all linked to the New South Wales outbreak.
Victoria’s border is now closed to all travelers from New South Wales.
On Sunday, New South Wales recorded eight new local cases. There are 161 active cases in the state, most of them in the northern beaches of Sydney, and 13 emanating from liquor store that are not connected to the beaches cluster.
The news that the state is battling two separate outbreaks in Sydney comes on the first day of mandatory mask restrictions across Greater Sydney, with enforcement to begin at midnight Sunday.
Masks will be mandatory in shopping centers, on public transport, in places of worship, hair and beauty premises and entertainment venues such as cinemas. All hospitality staff are also required to wear one.
Elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific region:
— Thailand has reported 315 new coronavirus cases as it gets set to implement new measures to fight a recent spike in infections. Officials said that 294 of the new cases reported Sunday were local infections. The virus has spread from six provinces in mid-December to 53 currently. As a result, authorities have outlined new measures that will take effect Monday. Restaurants in the 28 highly controlled provinces can continue normal operations, but with strict social distancing rules. However, the governors in each province are authorized to consider allowing them for takeaway only. Also, restaurants will not be allowed to serve alcoholic drinks and people will be asked to avoid unnecessary travel. On Saturday, the Ministry of Education said all public and private schools in the 28 highly controlled provinces will be closed from Monday through at least Jan. 31. Thailand has confirmed a total of 7,694 cases, including 64 deaths.
— Officials have tested more than 4.4 million residents in the northeastern Chinese city of Shenyang after the discovery of a new coronavirus cluster there. So far, only four cases have been confirmed from the testing. Another case was reported Sunday in a different city in Liaoning province. China reported a total of 11 new domestically transmitted cases on Sunday — five in Liaoning, four in in northeastern Heilongjiang province, one in Beijing and one in Hebei province, just outside of Beijing. Authorities across China are on high alert as new cases continue to emerge. The city of Heihe in Heilongjiang province suspended bus and taxi services after it reported four new cases. It has also temporarily shut down all business venues in the city except for markets, and sealed off residential communities. Both Beijing and Liaoning province reclassified some areas as medium risk while sealing off residential compounds where earlier cases were discovered.