Canberra: Australia on Monday recorded its most significant daily spike in the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths, amid a resurgence of the virus.
With the new cases (549) and deaths (17), the overall tallies have reached 14,403 and 161, reports Xinhua news agency.
Majority of the deaths and almost all of the confirmed cases occurred in the state of Victoria, which in the past month has witnessed a resurgence despite the reintroduction of social distancing restrictions.
Victoria’s care homes for the elderly have become a particular concern for authorities, with most of those who have died from the virus being in their 70s and 80s.
As of Monday, Victoria had over 600 active cases.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters that as long as the number of cases with the broader community remained high, the most vulnerable members of the public would be at risk.
“If you want to protect the most vulnerable in our community, that is why (following social distancing procedures) is so important,” Morrison said.
Last week Victoria introduced mandatory face masks in the state capital Melbourne and Premier Daniel Andrews said most people were abiding by the new rules.
However, he added that the virus was being mainly spread in workplaces, making it vitally important for those who display symptoms not to go to work, and to get tested.
“This is what is driving these numbers up, and the lockdown will not end until people stop going to work with symptoms and instead go and get tested,” Andrews said.
Meanwhile, the neighbouring state of New South Wales recorded 17 new cases of COVID-1, amid fears that Sydney could see a similar resurgence to what has occurred in Victoria.
Sydney’s cases so far involved a handful of restaurants and bars prompting a crackdown and tighter restrictions on hospitality venues.