The Australian city of Melbourne, recently a coronavirus hotspot in the country, is the latest to announce it will lift restrictions after going 24 hours without a single new infection or death for the first time in four months, in sharp contrast to the other side of the world where new infections are spiking in the U.S. and in Europe, where fresh lockdowns are being introduced.
Australia’s second-largest city will have its lockdown eased in two stages from Tuesday, Daniel Andrews, who heads up Victoria State, said on Monday.
“We have been able to bring this under control, a day of zero cases is an amazing achievement,” he said at a press conference.
Shops, restaurants, hotels and bars can reopen from Tuesday, although at a limited capacity, while people can leave their homes and travel further than the 15-mile distance limit.
It is hoped the relaxed measures will further boost the nation’s economic recovery which, like most countries hit by the virus, has seen historic contractions and record unemployment.
27,527. That’s the number of confirmed coronavirus infections Australia, with a population of 25 million, has recorded since the start of the pandemic, according to Johns Hopkins University—dramatically fewer than cases seen in not only Europe and the U.S., but countries with similar population sizes. Just over 900 people have died from the virus nationwide.
Australia won praise for its early handling of the pandemic with moves to close its doors to foreign visitors in February, and tough social distancing measures credited for limiting the early spread of coronavirus. The country’s second most populated state, Victoria, faced a second wave reportedly due to breaches of social distancing at hotels used to quarantine returning travellers, that quickly spread to residents of public housing estates, and workers at industrial workplaces. Now, as Australia and its neighbour New Zealand start to enjoy some return to pre-lockdown life, the reality couldn’t be more different for hundreds of millions of people on the other side of the globe. This past weekend saw the U.S. blow through its previous daily Covid-19 infection record, to count 83,000 cases on Friday, while Europe is currently seeing the five countries with the worst infection rates in the world: the Czech Republic, Belgium, the Netherlands, France and Switzerland. But while some European nations, such as the Czech Republic, Italy, Spain and France, are reactivating lockdowns almost as strict as the ones seen during the first wave, the U.S. looks to be entering a third wave of the virus going into the winter, with hospitalizations rising and a surge in infections hitting the Midwest the worst.