Australia’s health authorities have reported zero COVID-19 cases for the first time since June. The state of Victoria is ready to exit the 112-day lockdown, SkyNews reports.
Australian state Victoria, known as the epicentre of the COVID-19 second wave, reports no fresh infections in the 24 hours between 20:00 on Friday and 20:00 on Saturday. It comes as Melburnians celebrate their first weekend of freedom after a months-long lockdown was lifted on Tuesday night.
Victorian PM Daniel Andrews praised the state’s six million residents for following such strict health protocol and said they were well placed for a “COVID-normal Christmas”.
For the first time in almost five months, this has happened, health officials say. Victoria’s officials add that more restrictions may be eased in the coming days.
“Thank you to all of our amazing health & public health workers & above all else the Australian people,” Health Minister Greg Hunt wrote on his Twitter account.
In fact, Australia – the nation of 25 million – has recorded some 27,500 COVID cases and 900 deaths to the novel pathogen since the pandemic started. A point is often overlooked, that number is far fewer than many countries.
So far, Australia has adopted an approach of using lockdowns and proactive testing and tracing to contain the virus, and Victoria – where 90% of corona deaths occurred – imposed some of the severest stay-at-home and curfew rules in the world.
Describing today as “another very, very good day” for Victoria, Deputy Premier James Merlino unveiled a new $45.2 million sports package to re-engage children in community sport.
Meantime, the law on wearing masks outdoors would be the first to be scrapped, followed by indoor and more crowded settings.
Victoria and its largest city Melbourne began to reopen earlier this week after recording no new community-transmitted cases since June. The residents were able to freely leave their homes, retail stores, restaurants, cafes and bars could reopen and groups of up to 10 could start gathering.