Asia Today: Australian hot spot sees new virus cases decline

Australia’s worst-hit Victoria state recorded fewer coronavirus cases on Monday, but a health official has warned the disease spread might yet worsen

MELBOURNE, Australia —
Australia’s worst-hit Victoria state recorded fewer coronavirus cases on Monday, but a health official has warned the disease spread might yet worsen.

The 177 new cases were substantially down from 273 cases on Sunday and a record 288 on Friday.

Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said it was too early to say whether the lower count meant the spread was being contained.

“It’s great it’s lower than our peak. But it may not be our peak yet,” Sutton said.

“So I would like to see a week of decreasing numbers before I come and say I have greater confidence about the direction we’re going in,” Sutton added.

Melbourne, Australia’s second-most popular city, and a part of its surrounds in Victoria returned to lockdown last week in a bid to contain the disease spread.

Neighboring New South Wales state on Monday recorded a rare day in which the COVID-19 cases from community transmission outnumbered cases of infections overseas.

New South Wales, the nation’s most populous state, reported 14 new cases, eight of which are linked to a Sydney pub, Crossroads Hotel. Four cases are travelers who were infected overseas and diagnosed while spending 14 days in hotel quarantine.

Australia has recorded around 10,000 COVID-19 cases and 108 deaths.

In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region:

— South Korea reported 62 new cases, most of them tied to international arrivals. At least 43 of the new cases were imported by travelers, although the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention didn’t immediately say where they were from. South Korea on Monday began requiring foreign nationals arriving from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan to provide health certificates proving they had tested negative for COVID-19 amid widening outbreaks in Southern and Central Asia. South Korea has been requiring two-week quarantines on all airline passengers arriving from abroad since April.

— China on Monday reported eight new confirmed cases of coronavirus, all of them brought from outside the country, as domestic community infections fall to near zero. No more deaths were reported and 320 patients remain in treatment, with another 117 people under isolation while being monitored for being suspected of having the virus or having tested positive for it without showing symptoms. China has reported a total of 4,634 deaths from COVID-19 out of 83,602 cases since the virus was first detected in the city of Wuhan late last year.