Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Friday he was confident a coronavirus flare-up in Sydney, the country’s biggest city, was under control but acknowledged a larger spike in cases in Melbourne remained a challenge.
The state of Victoria, whose capital Melbourne is under a reimposed six-week lockdown, reported a record 723 new infections on Thursday.
The state now accounts for more than half of the country’s 190 deaths from the novel coronavirus and about 60% of the nation’s 16,303 cases. The majority of Victoria’s fresh cases are in Melbourne, Australia’s second biggest city.
“The level of community outbreak and community transmission in Victoria is the great challenge down there,” Morrison said on 2GB radio. “And there’s still a lot of work to do and we’re not on top of it yet.”
Morrison said New South Wales, home to Sydney, had contained the spread of the virus from outbreaks at pubs, restaurants and aged care homes thanks to much better contact tracing than in Victoria.
“The key difference is that in New South Wales ... there are no cases that have an unknown source. None,” he said, noting that Victoria has had around 50 cases a day with no known source.
“That is one of the key reasons we feel much more confident in New South Wales,” he said.
Morrison urged Muslims who will be celebrating the Eid al-Adha festival starting on Friday to stay away from big gatherings. Victoria’s outbreaks since June have been partly linked to family gatherings after the holy fasting month of Ramadan.
“At times like this, it’s even more important that we don’t gather in those large groups, that as important as faith is, that we really do think of the health issues here,” he said.