Australian authorities take cluster approach to contain coronavirus

Australian authorities take cluster approach to contain coronavirus

The usually teeming Bondi beach in Sydney was largely deserted
The usually teeming Bondi beach in Sydney was largely deserted after authorities urged Australians to stay at home. AFP/PETER PARKS

SYDNEY: Australian authorities will open a pop-up coronavirus testing clinic next to Sydney's Bondi Beach on Wednesday (Apr 1) as health workers try to contain clusters of infections across the country.

While strict lock-down measures are now in place in Australia, outbreaks of the disease have been detected in some communities, including Bondi, which made headlines in March when thousands of people were seen ignoring social distancing rules at its world-famous beach.

READ: Australia curbs gatherings, locks down travellers, in new coronavirus measures

South Australia's Barossa Valley wine-region has closed schools and facilities this week due to a localised outbreak, while six baggage-handlers working at the state's Adelaide airport have also tested positive to COVID-19.

"Bondi is one of those places where we are seeing local transmission, and we have seen cases among backpackers in recent days," New South Wales Health director Jeremy McAnulty said in Sydney on Wednesday.

The pop-up clinics are designed to ramp up testing in a dedicated area to help authorities contain the spread of the disease.

New South Wales (NSW), the country's most populous state, remains the epicentre of the disease in Australia, accounting for almost half of the nation's confirmed cases, which now exceed 4,500. There have been 20 deaths.

READ: Australia's NSW at 'critical stage' in relation to coronavirus, says Premier

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said on Wednesday there were early signs that virus case numbers in the state were stabilising.

"We can't let our foot off the pedal, we can't relax," Berejiklian said in Sydney.

"It doesn't take long for things to get out of control."

The rate of growth in new infections across the country has slowed to just under 10 per cent over the past three days, from 25-30 per cent a week ago, raising hopes that Australia is starting to "flatten the curve".

Like many countries, Australia's financial and jobs markets have been roiled by the outbreak, prompting the government to unveil several stimulus packages, including a AUS$130 billion (£64.40 billion) six-month wage subsidy.

While most virus cases have been detected in major cities, clusters have also emerged in regional towns and tourist destinations.

Barossa council mayor Bim Lange said schools in the wine-making area had been ordered to shut, and many other facilities closed, as a result of a localised outbreak, putting pressure on vineyards and other businesses involved in the grape-picking season.

"We've had three years of drought, and now this," Lange told Reuters.

BOOKMARK THIS: Our comprehensive coverage of the novel coronavirus and its developments

Download our app or subscribe to our Telegram channel for the latest updates on the coronavirus outbreak: https://cna.asia/telegram

Source: Reuters

Bookmark