Australia’s Victoria logs zero COVID-19 instances, a primary since July | Australia
For the first time in four months, the state of Victoria has not reported any new cases, raising hopes that the lockdown in the city of Melbourne can be eased.
The Australian state of Victoria did not report any new coronavirus cases or deaths on Monday, raising hopes that a strict lockdown in the city of Melbourne will be eased.
It was the first 24-hour period without newly reported COVID-19 infections since Melbourne’s five million residents were locked in quarantine hotels following an outbreak in July.
Victoria Prime Minister Daniel Andrews delayed the reopening of Australia’s second largest city on Sunday amid an outbreak in northern Melbourne.
Officials said they tested about 15,000 people in the area and all of them came back negative.
“This is one of the best results we can hope for,” said Jeroen Weimar, commander for community tests and engagement for Victoria.
Andrews is under heavy pressure to lift Melbourne’s second round of home stay restrictions, which were imposed when the state recorded 190 new cases a day in July, up to 700 in August.
Some measures were lifted last week to allow the return of haircuts and golf games. However, some rules still apply, including restricting restaurant service to takeaways and deliveries, while keeping non-essential stores closed, and prohibiting travel outside of the greater Melbourne area or more than 15 miles from home.
Corporations and the federal government argue that the ongoing restrictions will delay Australia’s economic recovery.
The Australian economy contracted 7 percent in the three months to the end of June. This was the largest quarterly decline since records began in 1959. The unemployment rate hit a 22-year high of 7.5 percent in July when businesses and borders closed because of the coronavirus.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has highlighted the fact that the neighboring state of New South Wales has much stricter restrictions despite regular reporting of higher daily case numbers.
While the measures have put a significant strain on the country’s economy, Australia has so far recorded just over 27,500 COVID-19 infections, far fewer than many other developed countries.
A paper released Monday by the Actuaries Institute said that physical distancing and lockdown not only slowed the spread of COVID-19, but also saved the lives of about 400 people who were expected to die of respiratory diseases such as pneumonia in June .
The Actuaries Institute looked at Australia’s latest official data on deaths and said there were fewer recorded deaths than expected in mid-winter winter, due to a decline in respiratory diseases.
“It is clear that lockdowns and other COVID-19 control measures have created great difficulties for many in Australia. There will certainly be medium- and long-term consequences for physical and mental health and the economy, ”said Jennifer Lang, Chair of the Actuaries Institute’s COVID-19 Working Group.
“Not only have these measures saved huge numbers of Australians from COVID-19 disease and death, but they have also reduced the number of deaths from a number of other causes.”