MELBOURNE, Australia — Australia’s coronavirus hot spot, Victoria, 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.