SYDNEY – The state of Victoria in Australia has recorded no cases or deaths of the new coronavirus for 28 consecutive days. Health authorities say they have achieved what is widely considered the official benchmark for eliminating COVID-19 from society.
Victoria’s last coronavirus patient was discharged from hospital on Monday. There were no cases or deaths reported in Australia’s second most populous state for a month.
However, infections have been detected in other parts of the country. There are fears the virus could spread to the community from quarantine hotels for residents returning from abroad. They face 14 mandatory days in guarded isolation on their return home, but security breaches have been blamed for Victoria’s second deadly wave of infections.
But the federal health minister, Greg Hunt, said Australia’s success in containing COVID-19 had been widely praised.
“The outside world is not a safe place,” he said. “We see that the outside world outside Australia’s borders has a very large number of cases and therefore we, as a world, must manage COVID-19 at least until 2021 and potentially cross the line and that is having an impact on Australia. At the same time, Australia has done very well. We still have heartache; we still have tragedies. But the world looks at Australia and says very loudly, ‘We wish we were Australian.’ “
Authorities say there are four key parts to Australia’s coronavirus battle plan: closing its borders to foreign travelers in March, mass testing, sophisticated contact tracing and strict lockdowns.
There is also a high level of adherence by Australians to social distancing and hygiene protocols.
The second wave of infections prompted state authorities in Victoria to impose some of the world’s toughest lockdown restrictions in July, which had been relaxed in recent weeks.
Australia has recorded nearly 28,000 coronavirus cases and 907 deaths since the pandemic began, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.
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