Asia Today: Australia’s Victoria has no cases for 8th day

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A woman wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of the coronavirus walks in Centre Place in Melbourne, Australia, Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020. Australia’s highest court has upheld a state’s border closure and dismissed a case arguing the pandemic measure was unconstitutional. The  High Court judges ruled that Western Australia’s border closure to non-essential travel applied during “a hazard in the nature of a plague or epidemic” complied with the constitution. (James Ross/AAP Image via AP)

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — The Australian state of Victoria had its eighth day in a row of no new virus cases or deaths, ahead of another move back to normal living including no limits on travel outside of Melbourne and the resumption of flights to New Zealand.

Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews is expected to announce another relaxation of rules on Sunday, including the removal of Melbourne’s so-called “ring of steel.” No longer confined within a 25-kilometer (15-mile) radius, the city’s residents will be allowed to travel throughout the state.

Travel freedom is expected to expand again when the border with New South Wales state reopens to Victorians on Nov. 23.

“They will be big steps, they’ll get us much closer to normal than we’ve been for six or seven months, which is very significant,” Andrews said.

On Monday, the state will see the resumption of direct flights from New Zealand, the first international flights into Melbourne since June 30.

Victoria’s latest virus wave, which resulted in more than 18,000 infections and 800 deaths, has been traced to outbreaks among staff at two hotels that were acting as quarantine locations for arriving overseas passengers.

A report released Friday on the much criticized program suggested among its 69 recommendations that travelers returning to Victoria should be able to quarantine at home, potentially with an electronic ankle or wrist bracelet to track movements and enforce compliance.

Three other Australian states — Western Australia, New South Wales and South Australia — reported a total of 12 locally transmitted cases in the past 24 hours.

In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region:

— Health authorities in Thailand on Saturday confirmed a new case of local transmission of the coronavirus, one of only a handful discovered in recent months. The Department of Disease Control identified the new case as a 37-year-old Indian man working as a waiter in the southern province of Krabi. It said he tested positive for the disease when he applied Wednesday to have his work permit renewed. Krabi is a province on the Andaman Sea that is normally popular with tourists, though Thailand was completely shut to foreign tourists from early April until last month. The country has confirmed a total of 3,830 coronavirus cases, including 60 deaths.

— India reported 50,356 new coronavirus infections over the past 24 hours, one-seventh of them in the country’s capital, which is struggling with a record surge. India’s confirmed cases — currently the second largest in the world behind the United States – have exceeded 8.4 million, The Health Ministry on Saturday also reported 577 deaths, taking total fatalities to 125,562. India has seen an overall steady dip in cases after touching nearly 100,000 a day in mid-September. However, the daily cases in New Delhi crossed 7,000 for the first time after dropping to nearly 1,000 last month. There’s also been a spike in southern Kerala state with 7,002 new cases. New Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain attributed the jump to more aggressing tracing and testing. The government warned that the situation can worsen as people crowd markets for festival shopping, coupled with the onset of winter and high air pollution levels in the capital. India’s daily recoveries have been outnumbering new infections for a month now.

— China on Saturday reported 33 new confirmed coronavirus infections, all of which the National Health Commission said were in patients who contracted the virus abroad.

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