Australia to Cancel Scheduled Parliament Sitting on Virus Risk

The next planned sitting of Australia’s parliament is set to be canceled because of risks posed by the nation’s coronavirus outbreak.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Saturday he had made a request to the speaker that the session due to start Aug. 4 not be held following public health advice, citing threats including increased community transmission in the southern state of Victoria.

Victoria, Australia’s second-most populous state, reported a drop in new cases to 217 from 428 on Friday. New South Wales on Saturday reported 15 new cases after reimposing restrictions on cafes and restaurants.

Victoria’s latest number was a “relief,” the state’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said, although he added the figure is still high.

Australia’s two most densly populated states are the focus of greatest immediate concern among lawmakers and health officials. Victoria’s capital, Melbourne, was placed into lockdown last week after breaches of hotel quarantine procedures were identified as a catalyst for outbreaks.

Morrison’s decision means the next session of the national parliament won’t be held until Aug. 24. He said the nation’s acting Chief Medical Officer, Professor Paul Kelly, had advised that “despite proposed mitigation measures, the risks posed by a parliamentary sitting are significantly higher and unlikely to be resolved in the next month.”

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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