Aus state seeks extension of Covid-19 curbs

Australia’s Victoria state, worst-hit by the coronavirus pandemic, on Monday sought an extension of the incumbent restrictions despite recording the lowest number of single-day cases.

Victoria’s Covid-19 case rate has plummeted from a peak of around 700 new cases at the beginning of the month, largely due to the introduction of a state of emergency, allowing for strict social distancing measures to be imposed on the population, reports Xinhua news agency.

On Monday it reported 116 new cases and 15 deaths, all related to aged-care faciltities.

Initially due to expire on September 13, Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews announced that he would seek to extend the state of emergency for a further 12-month period.

To do so requires a change to the state’s laws, which specify that an emergency can only last for a consecutive period of six months.

Andrews told reporters that the current social distancing measures should not be lifted when the state of emergency expires in September simply because the pandemic won’t stop at that time.

“Whilst we’d all love this to be over by the 13th of September, which is when the Act says the state of emergency must end, that simply won’t be the case.

“Before September 13 (we) will extend the state of emergency provisions within the public health and well-being act for a maximum of 12 months.

“So that means it will be a total of 18 months. The six months we have already been through plus a further 12 months,” he added.

Andrews said he hoped the changes would be passed with widespread support from all parties, despite the state’s opposition leader Michael O’Brien calling it a “power grab”.

O’Brien said that if the laws governing the duration of state of emergencies were changed it should be for a period of shorter than 12 months.