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Victorians worry of spike in COVID-19 cases

Photo: Victorian COVID-19 outbreak a worry
A spike in COVID-19 cases in Victoria shows Australians cannot breathe easy yet but authorities are confident the outbreak will be brought under control.

Health authorities are confident the outbreak of COVID-19 in Victoria will be brought under control quickly, but it's shown that Australians cannot take it easy.

Victoria confirmed another 19 cases on Sunday, taking to 160 the number of new cases in the state over the past week.

The only other cases reported on Sunday were five in NSW and one in Western Australia.

Deputy Chief Medical Officer Nick Coatsworth said the Victorian situation was discussed at Sunday's meeting of the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee.
He said that after the update from Victoria's chief health officer, Professor Brett Sutton, the APPHC had "every confidence" the outbreak would be brought under control.

"This is a good example of how things are going to work into the future," Dr Coatsworth said.

"(It is ) an important example because it will show how a state can get on top of outbreaks of this nature in Victoria and then move forward."

But he said each state needed to manage such spikes according to their own circumstances, and while Victoria had decided to suspend some other easing of restrictions, other jurisdictions didn't need to change their plans.

But Dr Coatsworth said the protocols on hygiene, social distancing, and staying away from others if showing symptoms should stay in place.

"Importantly as well, for those states where restrictions are lifting, that doesn't imply a lifting of our personal behaviour standards that we have become so used to."

Most of the new cases in Victoria came from large family gatherings.

"We don't want people to stop living their lives. We want people to interact but we want them to do so in a way that is safe and stops the virus from spreading," Dr Coatsworth told reporters on Sunday.

He said he understood it could be difficult to not hug or kiss someone you hadn't seen for a long time, but it was important not to do so.

He also said people who were showing symptoms should not go to work or socialise, and should get tested.

The Victorian spike has spooked some of the other states, including Queensland, which had been working to reopen its borders to interstate travel on July 10.

"The last thing we want to do is lift the borders, have lots of people come here for school holidays, spread coronavirus in our state, and then force us to go backwards on restrictions," Queensland Health Minister Steven Miles told reporters on Sunday.

"Clearly what's happening in Victoria will be a matter we will need to take into account in those considerations."

West Australian Premier Mark McGowan was also cautious, despite federal Finance Minister Mathias Cormann calling for states to end border closures.

"Clearly what has happened in Victoria means that we will take that into account in any decisions we'll make, but like everyone I'm very worried about it when you see these outbreaks," Mr McGowan said.

"Once they get out of control people can die and I don't want to see that come here."

There are now 7461 virus cases confirmed across Australia since the initial outbreak. The death toll remains at 102, relatively low by international standards.

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