Australia records no new Covid-19 cases for first time in five months

Swift, stringent measures and public buy-in credited for reining in pandemic

An outdoor dining area at the Sydney Fish Market. Photograph: Matthew Abbott/The New York Times

An outdoor dining area at the Sydney Fish Market. Photograph: Matthew Abbott/The New York Times

 

Australia recorded no new daily coronavirus community infections on Sunday for the first time in nearly five months, health officials said, paving the way for further easing of social distancing restrictions.

The state of Victoria, a coronavirus hot spot that accounts for more than 90 per cent of Australia’s 907 coronavirus-related deaths, saw no new daily infections and no deaths for the second consecutive day.

With no fresh cases of Covid-19 recorded in the rest of the country, Australia saw its first day of no transmissions since June 9th, health minister Greg Hunt said.

“Thank you to all of our amazing health & public health workers & above all else the Australian people,” Mr Hunt posted on his Twitter account.

Swift and stringent measures combined with community compliance have been credited for reining in the pandemic before it strained the public health system in Australia.

Queensland voters on Saturday returned the incumbent Labor Party for a third term, showing support for keeping the state’s internal borders closed – which has put the local authorities at odds with the federal government.

Victoria last week ended most of its 111-day lockdown restrictions – some of the world’s toughest and longest – with a recent Ipsos poll commissioned by the Age newspaper and Nine News showing Victorians backed the state’s handling of the pandemic.

Further easing

Victoria chief health officer Brett Sutton hinted on Sunday that the state may see more of its public movement restrictions eased in the coming days but urged further compliance.

“What allowances come ... will absolutely be informed by what this week looks like,” Sutton said at a televised press conference.

“To see 50,000 cases a day in France, to see Belgium sending patients outside the country because they’re so overwhelmed – that’s what we might have faced if we hadn’t been able to get on top of it.”

Australia has reported just over 27,500 cases since the pandemic started due to it quickly closing its international borders and imposing social distancing restrictions and widespread testing and tracing.

Australia on Friday warned its citizens not to travel to the United States, its key ally, due to the risk of protest violence and coronavirus.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Saturday reported 9,024,298 cases of coronavirus, an increase of 99,750 cases from its previous count, and said that the number of deaths had risen by 1,009 to 229,109.