Australian health minister says coronavirus outbreaks “distressing,” supports mandatory mask wearing

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Australia's Health Minister Greg Hunt speaks during a press conference in Melbourne, Australia, 08 March 2020. Hunt announced the country has secured an additional 54 million face masks to be provided to health professionals in their fight against the coronavirus outbreak EPA/ELLEN SMITH AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND OUT
Australia's Health Minister Greg Hunt speaks during a press conference in Melbourne, Australia, 08 March 2020. Hunt announced the country has secured an additional 54 million face masks to be provided to health professionals in their fight against the coronavirus outbreak EPA/ELLEN SMITH AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND OUT

Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt supports the decision to make face mask wearing mandatory in Melbourne amid a spike in coronavirus cases.

Hunt told reporters on Sunday that the coronavirus challenge in Melbourne “remains great,” committing federal government’s support to the state.

As of 3:00 p.m. local time on Sunday, a total of 11,802 cases have been reported in Australia, and 8,272 have been reported as recovered from COVID-19, according to the latest figures from Department of Health.

The number of new cases in the last 24 hours was 381.

Authorities in Victoria state on Sunday confirmed 363 new cases and another three deaths, taking the national death toll to 122.

In response to the outbreak, the state government announced on Sunday that people living in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire will be required to wear a face covering when leaving home and the new rule will not be enforced until after 11:59 p.m. local time on July 22 so as to give people time to purchase or make a face covering.

“We know today’s numbers will be distressing for so many Australians because these are not just numbers. These are Australians who have been infected by a virus which can be deadly or deeply debilitating,” Hunt said.

There were 18 new cases in New South Wales (NSW) state, only five of which were recently returned travellers in hotel quarantine, as community transmission in the state continues. Enditem

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