SYDNEY (Reuters) – The Australian state of Victoria, the country’s COVID-19 hotspot, reported four cases of infection-related at school on Saturday, a day before the expected easing of strict social distancing restrictions.
Melbourne, the capital of Australia’s second most populous state, is emerging from a second wave as a tough lockdown since July has brought daily new coronavirus infections to single digits from an August peak of above 700.
In the preceding 24 hours, the state found seven new cases, officials said, including four linked to a cluster linked to two schools in Melbourne’s northern suburbs that prompted authorities to order 800 people to self-isolate.
Victorian Prime Minister Daniel Andrews said some announcements will be made on Sunday as expected but others will depend on the results of the thousands of tests carried out in recent days in the surrounding area.
He did not specify what limits would be lifted. Cafes, restaurants and pubs remain closed for indoor services in the capital, while residents still need a reason to leave their homes.
“We are still optimistic that we will be able to convey positive things,” Andrews told a news conference. But “we’ll really just have to wait to see what those test results show us.”
Ahead of Saturday’s Australian Football League Grand Final, one of the country’s biggest sporting events, Andrews said results were expected on Saturday evening.
The match will be played in the northern state of Queensland – outside Melbourne for the first time because of the pandemic. More than 30,000 people are expected to attend, the biggest gathering since the pandemic began.
Queensland has kept infections down very low, closing its domestic borders with most states through the pandemic.
Reporting by Paulina Duran in Sydney; Edited by William Mallard
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