Australia delays opening of Parliament

Canberra: The opening of Parliament in Australia has been delayed by several weeks due to an increasing spread of the coronavirus in the country’s two most populous states, the media reported on Saturday.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison asked the Speaker of Parliament to cancel a two-week session which was due to begin on August 4, reports the BBC.

The next meeting is planned for 24 August.

In a written statement, Morrison said: “The government cannot ignore the risk to parliamentarians, their staff, the staff within the parliament and the broader community.”

Victoria and New South Wales are currently experiencing a surge in cases.

On Saturday, New South Wales recorded 15 more cases while Victoria saw 217 new infections.

On July 8, Victoria reintroduced stay at home orders across a number of affected regions, including Melbourne, Australia’s second-largest city.

In accordance with the laws, members of the public are only allowed to leave their houses to exercise, shop for food, provide care or seek medical treatment and for essential work and study.

Morrison described the situation in Victoria as “very concerning”, but expressed hope that local health officials had succeeded in flattening the spread.

Australia has so far reported 11,235 COVID-19 cases, with 116 deaths.

(IANS)