Australia’s second-largest city imposed an overnight curfew on Sunday to halt the spread of coronavirus cases, as South Africa’s infection count topped more than half a million.
Six months after the World Health Organization declared a global emergency, the virus has killed more than 680,000 people and infected more than 17.5 million.
Fresh clusters have been reported in countries — such as Australia — that had previously brought their outbreaks under control.
Australia’s Victoria state imposed fresh, sweeping restrictions on Sunday, including a curfew in Melbourne for the next six weeks, a ban on weddings, and schools and universities going back online in the coming days.
“Anything short of this will see it drag on for months and months and months,” said Victoria leader Daniel Andrews.
Despite a lockdown, Melbourne has continued to report hundreds of new cases daily even as other states in Australia have reported zero or a small number of cases.
Many other parts of the world are struggling with much bigger outbreaks.
Health authorities in South Africa who had been expecting a surge in cases after the gradual loosening of a strict lockdown reported that cases had exceeded the half-million mark.
The nation is by far the hardest-hit in Africa, accounting for more than half of diagnosed infections, although President Cyril Ramaphosa said the fatality rate is lower than the global average.
With infections and deaths soaring, the UN health agency has warned that the coronavirus pandemic would be lengthy and could lead to “response fatigue”.
“WHO continues to assess the global risk level of COVID-19 to be very high,” the agency said, adding that the effects of the pandemic “will be felt for decades to come”.