Australia Suspends Parliament Over New Wave Of COVID-19 Cases

People wearing face masks are seen at the entrance of the Menarock Life aged care facility, where a cluster of some 28 new infections had been reported, in the Melbourne suburb of Essendon on July 14, 2020, as the city battles fresh outbreaks of the COVID-19 coronavirus. William WEST / AFP

 

Australia’s parliament will be suspended for two weeks over fears that politicians could bring coronavirus from outbreak hotspots to the country’s capital, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced Saturday.

The postponement comes a day after the nation’s second-biggest city reported a record rise in COVID-19 infections.

Citing medical advice, Morrison said the government could not ignore the risk that legislators might spread the disease to Canberra.

“The risks posed by a parliamentary sitting are significantly higher and unlikely to be resolved in the next month,” he said.

Canberra and its surrounding Australian Capital Territory continue like much of the country to control the virus but cases have been on the rise in Sydney and Melbourne.

The announcement means parliament will not reconvene until at least August 24, having resumed on June 8.

The main opposition party accepted the decision but described the loss of political oversight ahead of a government update on the economy Thursday as “problematic”.

“We expect to be consulted much further in advance from any decision being made than what’s occurred with these circumstances,” Labor Party leader Anthony Albanese told media in Sydney.

‘Shocked us all’

On Saturday officials in the southern state of Victoria, for which Melbourne is the capital, said the region had recorded more than 200 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours following a rise on Friday of 438.

“217 is much better than a number above 400, but it’s a number that would have shocked us all a month ago,” Victoria’s chief health officer Brett Sutton said.

A medical worker (R) tests a woman in her car at a COVID-19 coronavirus testing station at the Crossroads Hotel, a popular drinking spot where at least 21 infections had been linked to a cluster there, in Sydney on July 13, 2020. PETER PARKS / AFP

 

“We need to remember it’s still a high number.”

Melbourne is battling a recent surge that has seen more than five million residents placed on lockdown.

The outbreak has also spread to Sydney, Australia’s biggest city, where there have been growing numbers of locally transmitted cases after an initial cluster erupted from an infected Melbournian who visited a popular pub.

Nationwide Australia has reported more than 11,400 cases of COVID-19 so far in a population of about 25 million, with 118 deaths from the illness.

The vast majority have been in Victoria and neighbouring New South Wales, the country’s most populous state and home to Sydney.

Other regions have not reported any new local infections in weeks.

 

AFP

Solomon Elusoji

Disqus Comments Loading...

Recent Posts

  • Headlines

Nigeria Records 340 New COVID-19 Cases, Total Infections Now 51,304

  Nigeria has recorded 340 new cases of the novel coronavirus, according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).…

5 mins ago
  • Africa

Thousands Celebrate In Mali After Military Coup

  Opposition supporters flooded into Bamako's central square on Friday to celebrate the overthrow of Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita,…

1 hour ago
  • Politics

DSS Invites 10 APC Leaders In Edo For ‘Important Meeting’

  The Department of State Services (DSS) has invited 10 leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Edo State…

1 hour ago
  • Sports

Sevilla Beat Inter To Win Sixth Europa League Trophy

  Sevilla won the Europa League for a sixth time as Diego Carlos's overhead kick deflected in off Romelu Lukaku…

2 hours ago
  • Headlines

UNILAG Crisis: FG Directs Babalakin, Ogundipe To Recuse Themselves From Official Duties

  The Federal Government on Friday directed the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Council of the University of Lagos, Wale Babalakin,…

2 hours ago
  • Business

Lagos Govt Targets December To Deliver Iconic Office Projects

  Amid the economic recession and dwindling financial resources occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Lagos State government says it…

2 hours ago