Australia’s Victoria state on Friday reported a new daily record of 288 coronavirus cases.
A record number of tests – exceeding 37,500 – were also carried out.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that the number of citizens and permanent residents allowed to return to Australia each week will be reduced by more than 4,000 from next week.
Sydney, Australia’s largest city, has been carrying a huge burden of hotel quarantine that is currently paid for by the New South Wales state government.
Victoria, to the south, has banned international arrivals after breaches of hotel quarantine in Melbourne were blamed for Australia’s only widespread transmission of COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus.
Melbourne went into lockdown again on Wednesday night for six weeks.
“The key here is again that all states and territories again reaffirm their support for Victoria in providing whatever resources they needed to deal with the outbreak in Victoria,” Morrison said.
Victoria has become the first state to recommend its residents wear masks if they can’t maintain 1.5 meters (5 feet) social distancing such as when they’re on public transport or in supermarkets.
“There is also a view across the National Cabinet, they are all effectively moving to a charging system for the hotel quarantine that is in place for those returning visitors,” Morrison said.
Queensland, to the north, charges travelers 2,800 Australian dollars ($1,900) for their two weeks in hotel quarantine, making Sydney a more attractive destination for Queenslanders to land from overseas.
Morrison said other states are moving to charge for hotel quarantine as well, given that Australia has been urging citizens for weeks to return as soon as possible. Outside Victoria, most of Australia’s COVID-19 cases have been detected in hotel quarantine.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and a cough that clear up in two to three weeks.
But the virus is highly contagious and can be spread by those with mild or no visible symptoms.
For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and could lead to death.