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Aussie health minister hints possible lockdown in COVID-19 hotspots

People's Daily Online

(Xinhua) 15:10, June 23, 2020

CANBERRA, June 23 (Xinhua) -- Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt has flagged that COVID-19 hotspots could be locked down to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Addressing the spike in COVID-19 cases in Victoria, Hunt said Tuesday that there's a possibility of tighter lockdowns in some local government areas.

"That's why very high levels of testing are being sought in those areas," Hunt told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).

"There's a possibility of tighter lockdowns, as we did in North West Tasmania, is on the table, and I think it's very important to be honest about that."

The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC), the key decision making committee for health emergencies, said in a statement on Sunday that of the newly confirmed cases in the past week, 116 (83 percent) were reported in Victoria.

"The Victorian government has identified the local government areas (LGAs) of Hume, Casey and Brimbank, Moreland, Cardinia and Darebin as the focus of current outbreaks of concern," said the statement.

"The AHPPC strongly discourages travel to and from those areas until control of community transmission has been confirmed."

Hunt said that the federal government support could be deployed to Victoria in response to the spike, describing it as a "critical juncture" in Australia's response to the virus.

"So, it's all of our task now to say we have to maintain those disciplines and I am confident that we will get there and we will get through this," he said.

"But, this is a critical juncture and it's the individual actions, coupled with the testing and the tracing and the local containment."

As at 3:00 p.m. on Monday, a total of 7,474 cases have been reported in Australia, including 102 deaths and 6,903 having been recovered, according to the Department of Health.

The department also said that over the past week, there has been an average of 20 new cases reported each day. Of the newly reported cases, the majority have been from Victoria.

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