Australia has recorded its deadliest day so far of the pandemic, with 25 deaths, all in the southern state of Victoria. The state government said there were also 282 new cases of the virus, which appears to show a bending of the infection curve, following the imposition of a strict level-4 lockdown in the state capital, Melbourne.
These new figures mean that more than 400 Australian’s have died during the pandemic.
There are growing concerns for the mental health of Victorians during this substantial outbreak. Australian Associated Press reports:
Melburnians have been in strict lockdown for several weeks, with restrictions also placed on regional Victorian residents.
There has been a 33% rise in Victorian children and young people presenting to hospital with self-harm injuries over the past six weeks compared to the previous year.
Over the past month, Victorian use of Beyond Blue services was 90% higher than the rest of the country.
Victorians used Lifeline 22% more than other Australians, with calls to Kids Helpline also higher than other parts of the country.
The Australian prime minister’s office has said there will be an additional $31.9m to create 15 mental health clinics across Victoria and further enhance essential support during the Covid-19 pandemic.
We are expecting a live update from the Victorian premier later today.
Italy closes nightclubs for three weeks
Italy is to shut discos and clubs and make it compulsory to wear a mask outdoors in some areas between 6pm and 6am.
It’s the first reintroduction of restrictions as cases rise, particularly among young people. Cases have double in three weeks and the median age of those affected is now below 40.
The new rules will start on Monday – two days after an Italian holiday when many young Italians go out dancing – and will run until early September. Masks will be required between 6pm-6am in areas close to bars and pubs and where gatherings are more likely.
“We cannot nullify the sacrifices made in past months. Our priority must be that of opening schools in September, in full safety,” Health Minister Roberto Speranza said on Facebook.
Speranza on Saturday urged young people to be as cautious as possible as “if they infect their parents and their grandparents, they risk creating real damage”.
On Sunday, 479 new cases were confirmed in the country, down from 629 on Saturday.
Testing on holidaymakers landing in Rome’s airports began on Sunday after the government said on Wednesday that people travelling from Croatia, Greece, Malta and Spain must be screened for the virus.
New Zealand delays election
New Zealand’s PM is living up to her mantra of “go hard and go early” to contain the country’s growing community-transmiossion coronavirus outbreak, which now stands at 49. Less than a week after the Auckland cluster was discovered, Jacinda Ardern has postponed the country’s election from 19 September to 17 October.
Ardern said the biggest risk to overcome would be ensuring 25,000 election workers were well-protected as they go about their work.
She said she had factored in participation of voters, fairness and certainty in her decision. She also said the date would not be moved again.
“Covid will be with us for some time to come. Continuously pushing out an election does not lessen the risk of disruption and this is why the Electoral Commission has planned for the possibility of holding an election where the country is at level 2, and with some parts at level 3,” she said.
“I have absolutely no intention at all to change from this point.”
A local poll released on Monday suggested 60% of New Zealanders did not think the original September date should stand.
Parliament will now dissolve on 6 September.
As of Sunday, there were 69 active cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand, including 49 cases from the community connected to or likely to be connected to the Auckland cluster.
Hello and welcome to the Guardian’s live coverage of the global coronavirus pandemic, with me, Alison Rourke.
In the past half hour New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, has postponed the country’s election – due to be held on 19 September – because of the new outbreak of coronavirus in the country. The election will now be held on 17 October. New Zealand had gone more than 100 days without a single case of community transmission of Covid-19, until last week, when four new cases were identified in Auckland. There are now 49 community transmission cases in the country.
In other coronavirus developments:
- Italy has closed nightclubs for three weeks from Monday, and said it will be mandatory for face masks to be worn in public areas where groups form, from 6pm-6am.
- Australia has recorded its deadliest day of the pandemic with 25 deaths. The country’s second biggest city of Melbourne has been fighting a major outbreak. There were also 282 new cases reported in the past 24 hours in the state of Victoria, which appears to show the curve is bending as a result of lockdown measures being reintroduced.
- The UK recorded 1,000 new cases of Covid-19 in the 24 hours to Sunday morning. It brings total confirmed cases to nearly 320,000. It comes as UK media reported localised coronavirus restrictions in some parts of the North of England could be lifted this week, after around 4.5 million people in Greater Manchester, East Lancashire and West Yorkshire were subjected to a new lockdown more than two weeks ago.
- France said on Sunday that 236 coronavirus infection clusters were being investigated, as the daily number of new confirmed cases rose by more than 3,000 for the second day in a row.
- Brazil on Sunday reported 23,101 new coronavirus infections, taking the overall tally to 3,340,197, as well as 620 new deaths.
- Israel will relax some social distancing restrictions from Monday, allowing up to 20 people to gather indoors and up to 30 people in open spaces. It will also relax quarantine rules for workers from some foreign countries.
- Ireland’s health chiefs will meet on Monday to decide if further restrictions are needed to slow a sharp increase in the spread of coronavirus that the government and officials have described as deeply concerning.
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