Victoria braces for more deaths as NSW clusters grow, Australia death toll at 161
In China, which managed to squelch local transmission through firm lockdowns after the virus first emerged in the central city of Wuhan late last year, a new surge has been driven by infections in the far western region of Xinjiang.
In the northeast, Liaoning province reported a fifth straight day of new infections and Jilin province reported two new cases, its first since late May.
In Japan, the government says it will urge business leaders to ramp up anti-virus measures such as staggered shifts, and is aiming to see rates of telecommuting return to levels achieved during an earlier state of emergency.
“At one point, commuter numbers were down by 70 to 80 per cent, but now it’s only about 30 per cent,” Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said. “We really don’t want to backtrack on this.”
Papua New Guinea has halted entry for travellers from Monday, except those arriving by air, as it tightens curbs against infections that have more than doubled over the past week.
Hong Kong has banned gatherings of more than two people, closed down restaurant dining and introduced mandatory face masks in public places, including outdoors.
Just weeks after European countries trumpeted the reopening of tourism, a surge in infections in Spain prompted Britain to order all travellers from there to quarantine for two weeks, wrecking the travel plans of hundreds of thousands of people.
But the World Health Organisation says travel restrictions will not be the answer for the long term, and countries have to do more to halt the spread by adopting proven strategies such as social distancing and wearing masks.
“It is going to be almost impossible for individual countries to keep their borders shut for the foreseeable future. Economies have to open up, people have to work, trade has to resume,” WHO emergencies programme director Mike Ryan said.
“What is clear is pressure on the virus pushes the numbers down. Release that pressure and cases creep back up.”