A closed beach signage is seen at Coolangatta Beach on the Queensland - New South Wales border in Brisbane on April 15, 2020. -…
FILE - A closed beach signage is seen at Coolangatta Beach on the Queensland - New South Wales border in Brisbane on April 15, 2020.

SYDNEY - Health authorities in Australia are going to widen COVID-19 testing for anyone with even the mildest symptoms. Officials believe they are controlling the outbreak. There have been about 6,650 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Australia, and 74 people have died from it.

More than 444,000 COVID-19 tests have been carried out across Australia.

In the state of New South Wales, authorities plan to increase the rate of screening in an effort to further control the spread of the disease.  They now want to examine people who are displaying only mild symptoms that include a persistent cough.

Testing for COVID-19 has been a key part in Australia’s fight against the new coronavirus.  Officials say strict physical distancing measures, with cafes, parks and many shops being forced to shut, also have been instrumental.
 

Australia’s geography plays a factor, too.  A vast island, it has closed its international borders to foreigners, insulating itself from infections from overseas.   
 
New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian says there will be increased testing in areas where there are COVID-19 clusters. 

FILE - A nurse speaks with patients at the door of a new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) clinic opening at Mount Barker Hospital in Adelaide, Australia, March 17, 2020.

“We are looking to expand the testing regime.  We already have on a good day between 4,000-4,500, even 5,000 people getting tested," she said.  "We have nominated the hotspots where that testing should occur in our more proactive way.  We are asking everybody in those hotspots to come forward.  We have one of the highest testing rates in the world, and that is one of the reasons, I believe, New South Wales is in the position we are when it comes to fighting the COVID virus.”    

Health Minister Greg Hunt says Australia has “a sustained and genuine flattening of the curve,” with the COVID-19 infection rate decreasing daily by about 1 percent.   

That optimism is shared by the Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.  She says her state was “really on track to smashing that curve” as it recorded no new cases of coronavirus in the past 24 hours.     

FILE - This general view shows an empty Coogee beach in Sydney on April 16, 2020.

Most restrictions of personal movement and businesses are likely to stay in place for several more weeks, at least.  Some of the measures, however, are being relaxed.  Sydney’s famous Bondi Beach is set to reopen next week to surfers and swimmers.

In Melbourne, vandals targeted the home of a Chinese-Australian family in a suspected coronavirus hate attack.  Perpetrators daubed graffiti with the words “COVID-19.  China die” on the family’s garage door.

It is the latest in a series of apparently racially motivated attacks in the state of Victoria during the coronavirus pandemic. 

 

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