MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australia's state of Victoria recorded 41 new confirmed cases of coronavirus on Saturday, double the daily rate seen a week ago, struggling to gain control over the pandemic while the rest of the country continues easing social distancing restrictions.
Victoria, the country's second-most-populated state, has now seen 11 straight days of double digit new cases, most linked to known outbreaks in Melbourne's suburbs, health officials said. Victoria has 204 of Australia's total of about 270 active cases.
"We are very concerned," deputy chief health officer of Victoria, Annaliese van Diemen, said at a press conference.
One of the new cases was a returned traveller. Australia requires all locals who return to quarantine in hotels for two weeks. But about 30% of people in Victoria have declined a COVID-19 test before leaving quarantine, health officials said.
New South Wales, Australia's most populous state, recorded six new cases on Saturday and officials said that returned travellers who declined to be tested will have to stay in a mandatory quarantine 10 days longer.
Despite the spike in cases in Victoria, Australia's infections numbers of around 7,600 and 104 deaths have remained well below that of many other nations.
On Friday, the government said that the country will continue easing social distancing restrictions and Tennis Australia (TA) said on Saturday that record numbers of people have been block booking tennis courts.
(Reporting by Lidia Kelly; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)