Australian authorities announced an overnight curfew in the city of Melbourne on Sunday and declared a state of disaster in the state of Victoria (southeast) because of the “unacceptably high” number of coronavirus cases over the past few weeks.

State Premier Daniel Andrews detailed that 671 cases and seven deaths have been reported in the last 24 hours from COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, before adding that there are many cases where the source of infection is unknown.

“These mysteries, this community transmission, is in many cases our greatest challenge and the reason why we must move towards a new package of measures,” he explained, as reported by the Australian television channel ABC.

He stressed that from 6 p.m. (local time) a state of disaster will prevail in the state, while Melbourne will be under a curfew from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m., a period in which people will only be able to leave their homes to work, shop, exercise within a five-kilometre radius and see a doctor.

Andrews has also stressed that only one person in each house will be able to go to the supermarket and only once a day in order to reduce the movement of the population, while restaurants and cafes may remain open only for the delivery of food and drink to homes.

However, he stressed that Victoria will move to phase three from Thursday, which will mean that restaurants, cafes, bars and gyms will have to close their doors. The new restrictions will remain in place until at least 13 September.

“This is not the position we wanted, but we cannot be in a position where this is still growing in Victoria,” he said, while regretting that the strategy implemented so far “is not working fast enough”. “We have to do more, and we have to do it now,” he said.

The state of Victoria has seen a surge in cases since June and has so far recorded 123 of the 208 deaths nationwide. Australia has so far confirmed 17,895 cases, 11,557 of them in the state of Victoria, according to Johns Hopkins University.

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