Victoria has recorded its highest daily increase in COVID-19 infections since early April when the coronavirus was near the peak of the outbreak.
Authorities confirmed 49 new cases on Sunday. The day before, 41 fresh cases were identified, with no apparent explanation where 19 of them came from.
One of the latest cases was an emergency department nurse from Royal Melbourne Hospital whose contacts have been informed as the hospital undergoes deep cleaning.
Sunday’s infection tally marked the 12th consecutive day of double-digit rises in the state that has sparked fears of a second wave.
The sudden surge in cases is the highest reported since April 3 when Victoria had 49 new daily infections, just after Australia’s peak outbreak in mid-to-late March, an archive of daily press releases reveals.
The Victorian government’s daily news alerts show Victoria appeared to be on the right track until mid-June, with zero infections recorded as recently as June 9, before numbers suddenly tracked up.
“We know that cases and outbreaks will continue to occur, and we really are doing our best to keep absolutely on top of them,” Deputy Chief Health officer Annaliese van Diemen said on Saturday.
‘Emergency alerts’ were sent via text to Melbourne’s virus hotpots of Keilor Downs and Broadmeadows amid a suburban testing blitz, urging people to get tested.
Health workers are going door-to-door, with mobile testing vans and expanded community engagement teams on the ground.
Eight of the 41 latest cases are linked to known outbreaks, one is a returned traveller, 13 are from routine testing and 19 are being investigated.
Quarantine testing refusals
Victoria is seeking legal advice about making it mandatory for returned travellers to be tested following revelations some had refused the test.
Dr van Diemen sought to allay concerns about the reported 30 per cent refusal rate, saying the figure related to overall numbers since hotel quarantine began but that current refusal rates were lower.
On Saturday NSW said it would force travellers to remain another 10 days in quarantine if they refused a COVID-19 test.
NSW Health minister Brad Hazzard it was “very concerning” that about 150 people in hotel quarantine had so far refused.
“My view is this will encourage those who have been reluctant to be tested to actually have the test. That’s a positive outcome for the NSW community,” he said.
Queensland has moved to implement similar mandatory testing while in WA and SA it is already a requirement of entry into the state.
Tasmanian visitors are offered a COVID-19 test after about 10 to 12 days in hotel quarantine but are not forced to agree.
In the NT people who refuse face an extra fortnight quarantine.
Liberal MP Trent Zimmerman said returned travellers who did not agree to take a test were reckless and he called for mandatory testing.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said he was concerned at the apparent refusal rate of 30 per cent.
“Ultimately, if someone gets the coronavirus, they are endangering the lives of others across the community,” he said.
UK crowds cause concern
People continue to gather in huge crowds in the UK, causing authorities to despair as the country still grapples with high infections rates.
Under lockdown restrictions in England, groups are limited to six people.
But in Liverpool crowds defied orders to gather for celebrations to mark Liverpool Football Club’s first league title in 30 years.
Amid the wild celebrations, part of the Liver Building – a local landmark – caught fire.
The gatherings come amid increasing worries about the unwillingness of the public to follow social distancing rules meant to halt the spread of COVID-19.
Exasperated Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson said on Twitter that he was “really concerned” about the images he was seeing.
“I appreciate (hash)LFC fans want to celebrate but please, for your own safety, and that of others, go home and celebrate at home,” he said. “Covid-19 is still a major risk and our city has already lost far too many people to the illness.”
@MerseyPolice Police officers were attacked Last night and injured they are public servants doing their job. Absolutely shocking behaviour no excuses if any body knows anyone please identify them to the Police. 300 fought with Police on Strand for over 2 hours. #shameful pic.twitter.com/YoEERZqcld
— Joe Anderson (@mayor_anderson) June 27, 2020
Huge gatherings were also reported in London overnight for the third night in a row.
Met Police commander Bas Javid told the BBC that the police have been trying to persuade people to go home rather than to arrest them.
“We’re not going to arrest our way out of situations like this, but what I can be clear about is if these situations do descend into chaos and violence and disorder, which is completely unacceptable, we will take a much more thorough and a robust position,” he warned.
“It’s the communities that are very, very upset by this, as much as the police are.”
Jason Day tested
Australian golfer Jason Day has been cleared to continue playing at the Travelers Championship in Cromwell, Connecticut.
The former World No.1 asked to be tested just before the third round, with officials opting to let him play without a partner as a precautionary measure.
Two other players withdrew because of the coronavirus on Friday — Denny McCarthy for a positive test, and Bud Cauley, who tested negative but decided to pull out after playing alongside McCarthy on Thursday.
There have been seven COVID-19-related withdrawals from the Connecticut event.