Countries on high alert with no let-up in coronavirus resurgence

Situation in Australia and other places has led to calls for tighter restrictions

A spike in community-transmitted cases led to Melbourne being put under a six-week lockdown last week.
A spike in community-transmitted cases led to Melbourne being put under a six-week lockdown last week.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

A state of high alert prevailed over the weekend in countries seeing a resurgence of the coronavirus, with governments in Australia, Japan and Indonesia, among others, repeating warnings for people to comply with social distancing rules in an effort to control its spread.

Australia's Victoria state continued to see a triple-digit rise in cases yesterday, reporting 273 new infections, and another Covid-19 death. Neighbouring New South Wales was put on high alert after nine cases were linked to a Sydney pub.

Australia has recorded just under 10,000 coronavirus cases and 108 deaths so far. But a spike in community-transmitted cases led to Melbourne, the capital of Victoria, being put under a six-week lockdown last Thursday.

In Japan, Economy Minister and virus czar Yasutoshi Nishimura said the country needs to remain on high alert amid a rise in the number of cases, with more than 200 in Tokyo alone yesterday, taking the overall toll to nearly 22,000 cases.

In the United States, Florida reported a record increase of more than 15,000 new cases of Covid-19 in a single day yesterday.

Assistant Secretary for Health Brett Giroir said that with deaths from Covid-19 expected to continue rising in coming weeks, "everything should be on the table," including renewed lockdowns in hard-hit states.

Meanwhile, coronavirus infections in South-east Asia's worst affected nation Indonesia accelerated past 75,000 yesterday, even after repeated warnings from President Joko Widodo to his officials to take the crisis seriously. The overall death toll is at 3,606.

In Iran, the resurgence of the virus was described as "truly tragic" by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei yesterday, who urged citizens to help stem the region's deadliest outbreak that has seen 257,303 cases and 12,829 deaths.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said yesterday on social media that the epidemic has become serious again recently, and she and her team are reviewing the situation every day. The financial hub recorded 38 new cases yesterday, including 30 local infections, taking the total tally to 1,469.


In Singapore, 178 new Covid-19 cases were confirmed as of noon yesterday, bringing the country's total number of infections to 45,961.

There was one confirmed case in the community as of noon yesterday, which was picked up as a result of community testing of all individuals aged 13 and above who are diagnosed with acute respiratory infection when they first see a doctor.

Overall, the number of new cases in the community has increased from an average of 10 cases per day in the week before, to an average of 16 per day in the past week.

Meanwhile, an expert in Singapore said that while the World Health Organisation (WHO) acknowledged the possibility of airborne transmission of Covid-19 last week, this is unlikely to be a big driver of the disease.

Professor Dale Fisher, a WHO representative and senior infectious diseases expert, said last Thursday that the agency maintains the virus is spread mostly by contact and droplet spread.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 13, 2020, with the headline 'Countries on high alert with no let-up in virus resurgence'. Subscribe