Australians refusing COVID-19 tests could face fines: PM

Canberra, July 1 (IANS) Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison warned on Wednesday that people could be fined if they refuse to be tested for coronavirus.

He said that the “stick will have to be put about” in order to contain new COVID-19 outbreaks, reports Xinhua news agency.

It comes after the announcement on Tuesday that from 11.59 p.m. Wednesday night, 10 areas linked to new outbreaks in Victoria state will go into local lockdown amid a spike in cases.

These “hot zones” will be required to return to Stage 3 Stay at Home restrictions – until at least July 29.

In making the announcement, Premier of Victoria Daniel Andrews revealed that more than a thousand people, when asked, refused to be tested.

“We’re doing this in an Australian way. We’re looking to do it through incentive, through the use of carrot, not stick. But occasionally the stick will have to be put about, whether it’s fines or other sanctions that are in place to ensure that we keep everybody safe,” Morrison told TV program Today on Wednesday.

He said that the uptick in cases in Victoria, which has confirmed more cases of COVID-19 than the rest of the country combined recently, was not “surprising” because Melbourne, along with Sydney, has taken the most recently returned travellers.

“Both of those states have been running those quarantines, they’ve been paying for them themselves, and that means their risks have been greater,” he said.

“And so I thank the New South Wales and Victorian governments for doing that heavy-lifting on behalf of all other states and territories.

“We always knew there would be outbreaks. The issue is not whether they occur, but how you deal with them, and we are dealing with it in concert with the Victorian government.”

Australia has so far reported 7,920 COVID-19 cases, with 104 deaths.

–IANS

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