Australia's Victoria logs 17 days with no community COVID cases

FILE PHOTO: People walk down a city laneway after coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions were eased for the state of Victoria, in Melbourne, Australia, October 28, 2020. REUTERS/Sandra Sanders

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australia's Victoria state recorded its 17th straight day without any new local coronavirus cases on Saturday as officials focus on keeping the community separated from staff and players here for next month's Australia Open.

As many as 72 players have been confined to their hotel rooms for two weeks upon arrival and unable to train for the Feb. 8-21 Grand Slam after passengers on three charter flights tested positive.

That's led to complaints from some frustrated tennis players, although others have urged their fellow competitors to show more respect for the efforts by the state, which went through one of the world's strictest and longest lockdowns last year, to stamp out the virus.

Spain's Paula Badosa on Friday became the first player to confirm a positive test for COVID-19 while in quarantine in Melbourne. There are also several other cases linked to the tournament.

On Saturday, there were three new cases recorded among international arrivals in hotel quarantine in Victoria, the state's health department said. It was not immediately known whether the new cases were linked to the Australian Open.

Australia has fared better than most developed economies in the pandemic through swift border closures, lockdowns, strict hotel quarantine for travellers and widespread testing and social distancing.

On Saturday, it logged a sixth straight day of zero coronavirus cases in the community nationwide. It has had some 28,700 cases in total, the overwhelming majority in Victoria, and 909 deaths.

(Reporting by Lidia Kelly; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)

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