Australia’s Covid cases surge as school re-opens

Sydney: Thousands of students in the Australian state of Victoria tested positive for Covid-19 since returning to classrooms, while the state government hasn’t decided yet to extend the school surveillance testing. There were 2,368 school students and 125 staff in the state tested positive on Monday, taking the infection tally to 7,046 school students and 925 staff since schools reopened last week, according to Victoria’s Education Minister James Merlino on Tuesday. Despite the infections, no schools have been forced to return to remote learning, and Merlino argued the current highly recommended twice weekly rapid antigen testing is “really providing confidence and comfort to everyone in school”. “We knew there will be positive cases once we do the surveillance testing, but it means we identify the cases early, and this will overall drive the number down, stopping the transmission,” Merlino said. Meanwhile, Victoria recorded 20 Covid-19 deaths and 9,785 infections, an increase of over 1,500 from the previous day’s tally. Under the state’s back-to-school plan, the surveillance testing is only for the first four weeks of term one. However, this school Covid-19 testing program will be expanded to children aged three to five at early childhood services, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced. In the next two weeks, 1.6 million rapid antigen tests will be delivered to services, beginning with kindergartens and then early childhood services. UNI/XINHUA VP PRT

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