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Melbourne battles a second wave of coronavirus and Sydney pub cluster surges to nine cases

The deputy chief medical officer has warned Australia’s death toll could rise further given the increasing numbers of COVID-19 infections in Victoria, and as worries mount over a potential cluster linked to a pub in Sydney.

Dr Nick Coatsworth’s warning on Sunday came as a man in his 70s died in Victoria, taking the national death toll to 108. The state reported the death of a 90-year old man on Saturday.

‘Deaths are a reality of COVID-19, they are the reality of a pandemic,’ Dr Coatsworth told reporters in Canberra.

‘It is possible that the death toll will increase, there is no doubt about that.’

An 18-year-old staffer has been confirmed among the now nine cases in The Crossroads Hotel cluster at Casula in Sydney's southwest

An 18-year-old staffer has been confirmed among the now nine cases in The Crossroads Hotel cluster at Casula in Sydney’s southwest

But he said Australia had learnt a lot during the pandemic and it had been able to avoid the large numbers of deaths seen overseas, particularly in elderly members of the community.

Victoria reported a further 279 COVID-19 cases, following on from 216 reported on Saturday and a record 288 infections on Friday. The state has recorded more than 1000 cases in the past week.

NSW recorded five new cases and authorities in the state are concerned about community transmission, especially a cluster from a Sydney pub.

An 18-year-old staffer has been confirmed among the now nine cases in The Crossroads Hotel cluster at Casula in Sydney’s southwest.

Dr Coatsworth said people who visited the pub between July 3 and 10 should self-isolate immediately and get tested for COVID-19 regardless of their symptoms.

That includes people who have now left NSW and freight drivers who are known to frequent the venue.

‘Without using the obvious pun, we are definitely at a crossroads in NSW,’ Premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters.

She said NSW had the opportunity to clamp down on community transmission or go the way of Victoria, which was why the number of flights from overseas would be capped and returned travellers would be charged for quarantining in hotels, as was agreed by the national cabinet on Friday.

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