Some Australian states relax borders as infections ease, hotspot cases rise

Victoria Police officers patrol through a shopping centre following an anti-lockdown protest in  Melbourne, Australia September 20, 2020. — AAP Image via Reuters
Victoria Police officers patrol through a shopping centre following an anti-lockdown protest in Melbourne, Australia September 20, 2020. — AAP Image via Reuters

SYDNEY, Sept 22 — Australia's virus hotspot of Victoria today reported a more than doubling in new Covid-19 infections likely as a result of increased testing, while states elsewhere in the country said border restrictions would be relaxed as case numbers dwindled.

Officials said the northeastern state of Queensland would open its borders to parts of neighbouring New South Wales, the country's most populous state, amid growing confidence that Australia's second wave of infections has been contained.

NSW has maintained new daily infections in the single-digits since September 11, reporting only two cases in the past 24 hours, both of which were overseas travellers already in quarantine.

Queensland had no new cases, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said. She said residents from some neighboring areas, including the NSW tourist spot of Byron, would be allowed to travel to Queensland in coming days.

“These areas have a lot in common with Queensland. They usually do a lot of their business in Queensland. So, we believe that this is the right measure to take,” she told reporters.

South Australian Premier Steven Marshall also said the state planned to allow NSW residents to cross the border without self-isolating for 14 days from Thursday.

South Australia has not reported a new case in close to two weeks.

Meanwhile in Victoria, the state at the centre of the country's second wave of coronavirus infections, officials reported 28 new cases, up from 11 yesterday.

Premier Daniel Andrews said the rise in new cases was likely a result of increased tests done over the weekend.

“It's very challenging, but this does take some time, because the nature of this virus is there is that latency, there is that lag,” he told reporters.

Victoria has contributed about 75 per cent of Australia's tally of nearly 27,000 infections and roughly 90 per centof its 851 deaths. — Reuters

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