Victorian Police will establish border checkpoints on 36 Melbourne suburbs locked down over Covid-19, with more than 300,000 residents facing on-the-spot fines for leaving their homes from 11.59pm tonight. The unprecedented controls, in place for all of July, will see police screen people entering and leaving virus hotspots, with residents only permitted to leave their homes for work, study, medical treatment, exercise or shopping for essentials. Premier Daniel Andrews said the virus is “so wildly infectious that if we don’t take these steps now we will finish up in a situation where rather than locking down 10 postcodes we will be locking down every postcode.” Andrews also commissioned a judicial investigation into how security breaches at quarantine hotels led to the spike in cases. On Monday Australia recorded 71 new cases, with 64 in Victoria.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has criticised states for keeping borders shut, after Queensland and South Australia ruled out opening up to Victoria until outbreaks are under control. He urged states to accept moves to lockdown specific postcodes rather than close off travel between entire states. “if you are living in Wangaratta [north-east Victoria], then you are no more affected by what's going on in those suburbs of Melbourne than if you are in Whyalla [South Australia]," he said. Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk complained about the “border wars” while moving to reopen to all states bar Victoria on July 10. “I think a national leader should have been able to bring all of the states and territories together,” she said. Palaszczuk also brought forward eased restrictions for gatherings and businesses to midday Friday. NSW is today also relaxing restrictions, with pubs, cafes and restaurants allowed an unlimited number of people provided they are seated and have four square metres of space each.
The United States has bought up practically the entire supply for the next three months of one of two drugs proven to work against Covid-19, leaving almost no access to remdesivir for the rest of the world. Experts and other world leaders are alarmed both by the unilateral action, reports The Guardian, with fears the US will take similar action if a vaccine is developed. US pharmaceutical giant Gilead Sciences has provoked controversy for charging patients $USD520 per vial of the drug, despite receiving taxpayer support for developing it. This news comes as the pandemic continues to spiral out of control in the country, with more than 2.5 million cases confirmed and states this week abandoning premature bids to reopen.
China passed a controversial national security law for Hong Kong on Tuesday, bypassing Hong Kong's legislature and keeping the wording secret from the city. Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam declined to comment on whether the law had been passed or what it contained. “I think at this moment, it is not appropriate for me to comment on any questions related to the national security law,” she told reporters. A summary of the law published by the official state agency Xinhua this month said the legislation would cover subversion, secession, terrorism and colluding with foreign forces. Today marks the 23rd anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong from the United Kingdom, in which China promised Hong Kong’s system and “way of life would remain unchanged for 50 years”.