The Latest: Lockdown largely ending in Melbourne, Australia

October 26, 2020 GMT
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Japanese lawmakers wearing face masks to protect against the spread of the coronavirus attend an extraordinary Diet session at the upper house of parliament in Tokyo, Monday, Oct. 26, 2020. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)
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Japanese lawmakers wearing face masks to protect against the spread of the coronavirus attend an extraordinary Diet session at the upper house of parliament in Tokyo, Monday, Oct. 26, 2020. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

MELBOURNE, Australia — Australia’s former coronavirus hot spot Melbourne will largely emerge from lockdown after the city on Monday recorded its first day without a new COVID-19 case in more than four months.

Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews said from 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday all shops, restaurants, cafes and bars will be allowed to open and outdoors contact sports can resume.

From 11:59 p.m. on Nov. 8, Melbourne residents will no longer be restricted to traveling within 25 kilometers (16 miles) of their homes. They will also be allowed to travel from the city to other parts of Victoria.


“Now is the time to open up,” Andrews told reporters.

Melbourne, the nation’s second-largest city, has been under strict lockdown measures since early July and the state government has been accused of inflicting unnecessary economic damage by not relaxing restrictions sooner.

The last time Victoria recorded a 24-hour period without a single case was June 9 before a second wave of infections began. A week has passed since Victoria lost a life to COVID-19. The death of a man aged in his 90s on Oct. 19 brought the state’s death toll to 817. Only 88 people have died with COVID-19 elsewhere in Australia.

Victoria’s daily infection tally peaked at 725 in early August.



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COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sri Lanka’s Parliament has closed for the premises to be disinfected after COVID-19 was diagnosed in a police officer serving there as a fresh virus outbreak grows.

Parliament will close Monday for two days as a precaution and will be disinfected during that time, said Narendra Fernando, the sergeant-at-arms of the Parliament.

A coronavirus cluster that began among garment factory workers earlier this month has grown to 4,400 cases, more than half the country’s total of 7,872. The death toll climbed to 16 on Sunday.

During the last 24 hours, 351 new patients have been detected and the majority are from the garment cluster.

To contain the spread, the government has closed schools and banned gatherings across Sri Lanka, and a curfew is in effect in many parts of Western province, where the infections have been concentrated.

Several thousand people have been asked to quarantine at home, while another 8,421 people are being quarantined at military-run centers.


NEW DELHI — India’s coronavirus cases are continuing to decline but rising air pollution and Hindu festivals are raising fears of new infections.

The Health Ministry said 45,148 new cases have taken India’s tally to 7.9 million on Monday. It also reported 480 deaths in the past 24 hours, raising total fatalities to 119,014.

The Indian capital is seeing an upsurge with nearly 4,000 new cases, the highest in the past five weeks. Experts expressed concern over severe air pollution caused by farm fires, exhaust from diesel generators, dust from construction sites and burning of garbage.

“When you have high levels of air pollution you will see an increase of severe COVID-19 infections,” said Dr. Randeep Guleria, a government health expert.

The southern coastal state of Kerala is the second-worst state for active cases in the country. India’s Health Minister Harsh Vardhan blamed “gross negligence” during the 10-day Onam festival in late August.

Some experts say the decline in cases suggests the virus may have reached a plateau but others question the testing methods. India is relying heavily on antigen tests, which are faster but less accurate than traditional RT-PCR tests.