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


  • World
  • Tuesday, 22 Sep 2020

FILE PHOTO: People wear face masks in the city centre as the state of New South Wales continues to report relatively low numbers for new daily cases of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Sydney, Australia, September 4, 2020. REUTERS/Loren Elliott

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia's virus hotspot of Victoria on Tuesday 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 neighboring 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 Sept. 11, reporting only two cases in the past 24 hours, both of which were overseas travelers 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 on Monday.

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% of Australia's tally of nearly 27,000 infections and roughly 90% of its 851 deaths.

(Reporting by Paulina Duran in Sydney; Editing by Stephen Coates)

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