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New COVID-19 Case Disrupts Australian Open Preparations

FILE - Australian tennis player Ivana Popovic leaves a hotel for a training session in Melbourne, Jan. 19, 2021, as players train while quarantining for two weeks ahead of the Australian Open tennis tournament.

Strict COVID-19 measures are being reintroduced in the state of Victoria after a 26-year-old Australian Open hotel worker tested positive.

Up to 600 tennis players, officials and support staff have been told to isolate and be screened, while warm-up matches for next week’s Grand Slam in Melbourne have been canceled. They must return a negative coronavirus test before they can resume their preparations for next week’s tournament.

“About five [to] 600 people that are either players or officials and others who are casual contacts, they will be isolating until they get a negative test,” said Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews. “So, it may have an impact on the lead-up event, but at this stage there is no impact to the tournament proper.”

Andrews added that there was “no need for people to panic” because Victoria was adept at containing coronavirus outbreaks following a marathon four-month lockdown last year.

Warm-up matches at Melbourne Park were suspended Thursday as a precaution.

Australian player Nick Kyrgios says while he supports the decision, he believes some of his colleagues won’t.

“I am not going to complain,” he said. “You know, it is not about me. My mum is incredibly sick. You know, [if] she gets COVID, then do you know what I mean, there is too much risk in all this. I do not understand why it is so hard for tennis players to understand, like, you are just a tennis player. It is not life and death like this is.”

Restrictions also apply to the broader community in the state of Victoria. Masks are mandatory, and private gatherings in homes are limited to 15 people.

Western Australia continues to face twin emergencies -- a coronavirus lockdown and devastating bushfires -- as residents in the state capital, Perth, enter their fourth day of a five-day lockdown. It was ordered after a worker at a quarantine hotel for Australians returning from overseas tested positive to coronavirus.

State authorities in New South Wales said Thursday they had recorded no new community COVID-19 cases for the 18th consecutive day.

Australia has recorded 28,829 COVID-19 cases and 909 deaths since the pandemic began, according to official government figures.