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Melbourne, On COVID-19 Lockdown, Reports Record Case Count

People in Melbourne, Australia, wear face masks on Thursday. Victoria has recorded 317 new cases of coronavirus in 24 hours, the highest daily total recorded in the state since the pandemic began.
People in Melbourne, Australia, wear face masks on Thursday. Victoria has recorded 317 new cases of coronavirus in 24 hours, the highest daily total recorded in the state since the pandemic began.

The southern Australian state of Victoria has set a one-day record for coronavirus infections, prompting officials to order a clampdown on nonurgent surgeries to free up beds for COVID-19 patients.

In Melbourne, Victoria's capital and Australia's second-largest city, 317 new cases were reported more than a week after a "hard boundary" was imposed around the city and Victoria was closed off from neighboring New South Wales state in an effort to stop the virus. The lockdown is planned to last six weeks.

Among the latest cases, 28 have been linked to known hot spots, while 289 are under investigation, officials said. Two men in their 80s died in Victoria, bringing the national death toll to 113.

Victoria's Health Minister Jenny Mikakos announced that all Category 3 elective surgeries, defined as patient conditions that are unlikely to deteriorate quickly or become an emergency, would be paused at Melbourne's public hospitals to conserve bed space.

Even so, the state's chief health officer, Brett Sutton, emphasized that the situation is not out of control.

"An out-of-control outbreak is one where no matter what you're doing, you're seeing an exponential increase," Sutton said.

"We're seeing an increase, but it's relatively slow," he said. "The rate of increase that is being modeled, it's also coming down close to one, where we expect that plateauing of cases."

Meanwhile, health officials in New South Wales say a man from Melbourne is "likely" responsible for spreading the virus in southwest Sydney. The man, who traveled to Sydney on June 30 to attend a company function, is thought to have infected several colleagues while at a hotel pub.

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