South Australia calls off reopening after virus spike in neighbouring state

Clinical trial participants are given a coronavirus vaccine in Melbourne last month. (AP pic)

SYDNEY: South Australia, one of several states in the country to close domestic borders, on Tuesday cancelled its scheduled reopening to other parts of the nation, citing a spike in coronavirus infections in neighbouring Victoria.

The country’s fifth most-populous state had said it would remove restrictions on interstate arrivals on July 20 as part of a broader nationwide relaxation of curbs to contain the new coronavirus.

However, Victoria has reported a double-digit increase in new cases for each of the past 13 days, resulting in Australia’s biggest daily increase in new cases since April.

“We are very hopeful that Victoria will be able to bring their outbreaks under control but at this stage we cannot possibly lift that border on 20 July as we were hoping to do,” South Australia Premier Steven Marshall told reporters.

“We have worked so hard to get ourselves into a very enviable position and we are not prepared to go backwards.”

The delays in reopening internal borders cast doubts over a federal plan to set up “travel bubble” with neighbouring New Zealand that would allow movement between the two countries.

Australia has fared better than many countries in the pandemic, with around 7,800 cases and 104 deaths, but the recent surge has stoked fears of a second wave.

After reporting 75 new cases on Monday, Victoria has not given a daily update of case numbers on Tuesday.

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