Anzac Day services scrapped as NSW sees largest daily spike in coronavirus cases

Anzac Day services have been cancelled across the nation due to the coronavirus, as NSW records its biggest daily spike in cases of the deadly illness.

The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in NSW almost doubled over the weekend to reach 171.

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said there had been 37 new cases in the 24 hours to 11am on Monday which he described as a “dramatic increase”.

There are currently 1282 cases under investigation, with 25,500 people tested to date.

There are currently 375 cases of coronavirus around Australia.

Services to mark Anzac Day have been cancelled in Victoria, NSW, Western Australia and Tasmania after the federal government banned mass gatherings over 500 people in response to the virus.

RSL NSW acting state president Ray James said in a statement on Monday its decision was made based on its “responsibility to act in the best interests of veterans and the general public”.

Anzac Day services have been cancelled in Victoria, NSW, Western Australia and Tasmania due to the coronavirus. Source: AAP

“Given the significant concerns around the spread of COVID-19, we simply cannot allow such large gatherings as we see each year on Anzac Day to go ahead,” Mr James said.

RSL WA chief executive John McCourt told ABC radio plans were underway for some sort of commemoration for April 25 using social media and live streaming.

RSL-held services and subsequent marches have also been called off in Tasmania. 

“It was a tough decision because a lot of the sub-branches would have been organising these events from February onwards,” state president Robert Dick told AAP. 

“A lot of preparation work has already been done. But I emphasise the fact that public safety and wellbeing is more important.”

Mr Dick said many older veterans fall into the group of people most at risk.

“The consequences could be devastating and we don't want to put people in that position,” he said. 

“We're asking people in their own private way to pay respects to our serving and ex-service members.

“Even if it's like on Remembrance Day, where you take a moment around 11 o'clock to pause and reflect on those who have gone before.”

Penalties for large gatherings

It comes after NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard issued an order forcing the immediate cancellation of public events with more than 500 people.

Individuals who fail to comply could face up to six months in prison, a fine of up to $11,000, or both, he said on Monday.

The WA government on Sunday declared a state of emergency warning those who breach the 14-day self-isolation ban after returning from overseas will be fined up to $50,000.

Canberra on Monday followed the lead of Victoria in declaring a state of emergency, giving additional power to government officials to enforce stricter measures to slow the spread of the virus.

With AAP

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