Australia again on outbreak alert as state studies soar in virus circumstances

SYDNEY (Reuters) – The Australian state of South Australia reported 14 new coronavirus cases on Monday from three cases the previous day, which prompted a neighbouring state to reimpose border controls and the federal government to offer help.

South Australia ended a months-long streak of no COVID-19 infections on Sunday, reporting three locally-acquired coronavirus cases after a worker from a quarantine hotel infected family members, the authorities said.

The cases raised concerns of a new outbreak.

Western Australia, which borders South Australia, said it was introducing mandatory virus testing and a 14-day quarantine for interstate arrivals, tightening its border control soon after letting in people from elsewhere in the country.

“We just kept getting positives coming off the machine,” South Australia Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.

“We haven’t got the genomics yet, but I’m absolutely certain it has come from a medi-hotel,” she added, using the term for quarantine hotels.

Victoria state, which also borders South Australia, reported no new cases on Monday. Victoria accounts for most of Australia’s nearly 28,000 coronavirus infections and 907 deaths but has reported no new cases for several weeks after coming out of a lengthy lockdown.

Federal health minister Greg Hunt said he was offering a national contact-tracing system and defence force personnel to help South Australia stop the virus from spreading, and “if more is required, more will be provided”.

Australia meanwhile said it would spend A$1 billion ($726.3 million) underwriting construction of a vaccine manufacturing plant under a deal with a unit of biomedical giant CSL Ltd (AX:), guaranteeing supply of flu shots and antivenins.

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