Australia’s coronavirus hotspot may speed up lifting curbs as cases fall


Australia`s coronavirus hot spot of Victoria is considering easing curbs sooner than previously flagged, the state`s premier said on Wednesday, as the two-week average of new infections in the city of Melbourne dropped below 30.

Melbourne, Australia`s second most populous city, has been the epicentre of the country`s second wave of COVID-19. The city has been under a hard lockdown, including a nightly curfew, since August 2.

The state reported 15 new cases and five deaths on Wednesday.

The 14-day average in Melbourne dropped below the 30-50 band which the state set as a precondition for allowing around 100,000 people to return to work in construction, manufacturing, warehouses and child care from Sept. 28.

“We are winning this battle and we will prevail. It`s just a matter of us staying the course — not letting our frustration get the better of us,” state premier Daniel Andrews told reporters.

Andrews said if the average holds below 30 ahead of this Sunday`s review of restrictions, it was possible further curbs could be eased, but he declined to say what those might be.

“We don`t want to do something that might seem quite small but could present a significant challenge to us in a couple of weeks` time,” he said.

The state is only due to lift a nightly curfew in Melbourne and restrictions on people leaving home for more than two hours a day and beyond a 5 km (3-mile) range after October 25, by when the state wants the two-week average of new cases to drop to five.

Victoria accounts for 75% of the country`s nearly 27,000 cases and 90% of its 859 deaths since the pandemic began.

Australia`s biggest state, New South Wales, reported six new cases on Wednesday, while South Australia reported one — all returned travellers in quarantine.

“These are all really encouraging signs … But we mustn`t drop our game here,” Australia`s chief nursing officer Alison McMillan said, pointing to a surge in cases in Britain.

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