SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia’s Victoria state reported its seventh consecutive day of zero locally transmitted COVID-19 cases on Friday, suggesting a three-month strict lockdown in the city of Melbourne has successfully contained a second wave outbreak.
Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said the state remained on track to ease travel curbs to allow movement between state capital Melbourne and other parts of the state on Sunday, but he urged people to remain vigilant.
“We can’t just pretend that seven days of zeros is like a vaccine against this virus, it isn’t,” Andrews told reporters.
A three-month lockdown was imposed in Melbourne to stall an outbreak that peaked at more than 700 new cases reported in a single day in early August.
New South Wales state on Friday reported four new cases of locally transmitted COVID-19 and another five involving people in quarantine. Australia’s other states and territories have effectively eliminated the virus.
Officials have in recent days relaxed some restrictions that had stopped people crossing internal state and territory borders.
Andrews said travellers from New Zealand would be allowed to fly direct to Melbourne from Monday and would not need to quarantine on arrival. Australia has allowed incoming travellers from New Zealand since Oct. 16 under the first stage of a “travel bubble” with its neighbour.
The relaxation of regional border rules prompted Qantas and Virgin Australia to announce they would boost the number of their flights later this month on the Sydney-Melbourne route, one of the busiest in the world before the pandemic.
Australia has recorded just over 27,600 novel coronavirus infections and 907 deaths, far fewer than many other developed countries.
(Reporting by Renju Jose; editing by Jane Wardell)