Australia's second largest state declares a disaster

WHO warns of long drawn out virus pandemic as Asia cases spike

WHO warns of long drawn out virus pandemic as Asia cases spike

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New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said people were now being "strongly encouraged" to wear masks, particularly on public transport, in shops and at places of worship as the state attempts to avoid the fate of neighbouring Victoria.

The city of Melbourne, which is Australia's second-largest city, has already been put under a six-week-long stay at home restriction, but these lockdown measures have now been strengthened to tackle the rising threat of coronavirus in the region.

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People wearing protective face masks walk along a street in Melbourne after it became the first city in Australia to enforce mask-wearing in public as part of efforts to curb a resurgence of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), July 23, 2020.

The new restrictions apply to how Victorians live, with further restrictions around work and business to be revealed on Monday.

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A state of disaster has been declared in Victoria as the state tightens Covid-19 restrictions and implements a nightly curfew in Melbourne.

Woolworths told in a statement last night that purchase limits have now started on a range of at least 50 products both in-store and online, with Victorian shoppers restricted to just two items each.

Despite a lockdown, Melbourne has continued to report hundreds of new cases daily even as other states in Australia have reported zero or a small number of cases. While a state of emergency can last up to six months before being revoked, a state of disaster must be renewed after a month if it is deemed necessary.

The new lockdown restrictions came into place on Sunday at 6pm (9am BST).

Under the tighter restrictions, Melbourne residents will only be allowed to exercise for an hour a day and can't travel more than 5km (3.1 miles) from home for the purposes of shopping or exercise.

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Areas of regional Victoria will move to stage three restrictions, meaning businesses such as restaurants, cafes and gyms will be forced to close.

"The current rate of community transmission - mystery cases that can not be traced back to work or home - is far too high", said Andrews in a statement on changes to Melbourne's restrictions. "But it is not working fast enough".

In all, Australia has recorded more than 17,923 cases and 208 deaths. We must go harder. "Either who they got it from or where or how", Premier Andrews said.

"These are big steps but they're necessary. We need to do more".

"Those mysteries and that community transmission is in many respects our biggest challenge and the reason why we need to move to a different set of rules", Andrews said, adding that the government's response "will be imperfect".

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