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723 cases in Australia, closures in Vietnam

Women wearing face masks wait to join a parade in Bali, Indonesia, on Thursday, July 30, 2020. Indonesia's resort island of Bali will reopen for domestic tourists on Friday after months of virus lockdown. (AP Photo/Firdia Lisnawati)

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Australia’s coronavirus hot spot, Victoria state, will make masks compulsory statewide after reporting a record 723 new cases on Thursday.

Masks have been mandatory in the state capital, Melbourne, and a neighboring semi-rural district for the past week. Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said the measure will be extended starting Sunday.

Residents around the city of Geelong will not be allowed to have visitors in their homes from late Thursday.

The 723 new cases and a daily record 13 deaths exceeded the previous record of 532 cases on Monday.

“These numbers today are a reflection of increased cases in aged care,” Andrews said, referring to new infections in Melbourne’s nursing homes.

Melbourne and neighboring Mitchell Shire are halfway through a six-week shutdown, which Andrews said could be extended.

He said extending mandatory masks and banning visitors to homes are meant to keep the infection rate low in regional centers.

“All of us, as proud Victorians, if we follow the rules, if we play our part, then we can defeat this. We can drive these numbers down,” Andrews said.

In other developments around the Asia-Pacific region:

≤ India reported more than 50,000 cases for the first time in 24 hours on Thursday, taking the national total to 1,583,792. The number of recoveries from the coronavirus also crossed 1 million as the recovery rate of 64.4% continues to improve. The Health Ministry reported another 775 deaths, driving total fatalities to 34,968. India has the world’s third-highest caseload after the United States and Brazil. The reported deaths in India, however, mark a far lower fatality rate at 2.23% than in the other two countries.

≤ China is stepping up testing for COVID-19 in an attempt to get a handle on new outbreaks that have defied the country’s considerable success in containing the coronavirus that was first detected in the central city of Wuhan late last year.

≤Vietnam on Thursday reported 14 more cases of COVID-19, as the first outbreak in over three months spread to cities while authorities say they cannot trace its source. The Health Ministry said eight of the new infections were from hot spot Da Nang, five from neighboring Quang Nam province, and one in Hanoi in a man who returned from Da Nang. The outbreak has spread to five other cities and provinces with 48 cases reported since the weekend. Dak Lak province is the latest to reimpose social distancing, close down nonessential services and ban public gatherings of more than 20 people. Quang Nam and Quang Ngai have closed their beaches and limited businesses. Meanwhile, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh cities closed bars and clubs.

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