ADF personnel and Victorian police officers patrol a walking track as Melbourne remains in lockdown restrictions due to…
ADF personnel and Victorian police officers patrol a walking track as Melbourne remains in lockdown restrictions, In Melbourne, Australia, July 26, 2020. (AAP Image/Daniel Pockett via Reuters)

Australia’s coronavirus-stricken Victoria state reported a record-high 532 new cases Monday despite reaching the midway point of a six-week lockdown of its capital, Melbourne. 

The nation’s second-most populous state also posted six more deaths, five of them in elder care facilities, putting Victoria state’s total COVID-19 death toll to 77, making up the bulk of Australia’s 161 total fatalities.  Victoria currently has over 4,500 active coronavirus cases, also the most in the nation. 

Victoria Premier David Andrews blamed the dramatic rise of new cases on residents continuing to go to work or generally go out in public despite developing symptoms. 

“This is what is driving these numbers up and the lockdown will not end until people stop going to work with symptoms and instead go and get tested,” Andrews said, warning that some of Victoria's biggest industries and mass employers could be temporarily shut down if employees keep going to work with coronavirus symptoms. 

Melbourne’s five million residents were placed under a mandatory face mask order last week in the latest attempt to control the spike in COVID-19 infections.  Residents are currently banned from leaving home unless going to work, school, medical appointments or shopping for food.    

Authorities have also shut down the border between the country’s two most populous states due a spike in COVID-19 cases in the city of Melbourne. 

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