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Incoming flights under review as quarantine stretched

National

Political leaders are preparing to cut the number of flights into Australia to ease the burden on the quarantine system.

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Prime Minister Scott Morrison will discuss international arrivals with state and territory leaders on Friday.

“I’ll be taking a proposal to national cabinet to slow that down,” Morrison said.

Flights into Melbourne have stopped as infections rise and other capital cities are struggling to cope with rising passenger numbers, who must spend two weeks in hotel isolation.

The nation’s chief medical officers have also been asked to investigate the hotel quarantine system, after major failures in Melbourne fanned dozens of new infections.

“What the national cabinet is doing is reviewing the total numbers to make sure the procedures are safe,” Health Minister Greg Hunt told the ABC.

“Seven out of eight states and territories have done an extraordinary job.

“Then that (review) will moderate the number of total flights and therefore the number of people that come into Australia.”

More than 72,000 international passengers arrived in Australia in the month to July 7, with more than half landing in NSW.

There were 39,394 arrivals in NSW, 15,374 in Victoria, 10,054 in Queensland, 5,377 in Western Australia, 962 in the Northern Territory, 683 in South Australia and 307 in the ACT.

Millions of Melburnians and residents of Mitchell Shire to the city’s north returned to strict stay-at-home orders overnight after another day of triple-figure coronavirus infections.

Australia’s deputy chief medical officer conceded Melbourne’s second lockdown would be harder than the first.

“This is clearly harder the second time around when only a short time ago we were lifting restrictions,” Nick Coatsworth told reporters in Canberra.

Victoria recorded 134 of the nation’s 147 new coronavirus cases, the state’s second worst rise after almost 200 people were diagnosed with the disease on Tuesday.

The ACT lost its virus-free status after three people aged in their 20s contracted the disease following a visit to a hotspot Melbourne suburb.

Dr Coatsworth urged anyone with symptoms who had been in Victorian to immediately get tested and isolate.

“As soon as you feel at all unwell please do not interact with other people. Get tested,” he said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said there was always a risk Melbourne’s outbreak could spread to other states.

“We’re all Melburnians now when it comes to the challenges we face,” he said.

“We’re all Victorians now because we’re all Australians and that’s where the challenge is right now.”

The prime minister is two weeks from outlining the future of coronavirus support payments including JobKeeper wage subsidies and the boosted JobSeeker dole payment.

“Because of what has happened in Victoria, obviously the need there will be far greater than was previously, and that need will be met,” he said.

-AAP

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