MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Australia moved one step closer to normal life on Sunday, opening some internal borders and easing restrictions in areas affected by COVID-19, as the vast majority of the country has not seen new community infections or death for weeks.
South Australia, which last week became the epicenter of the country’s infections, reported no new cases in the community and lifted a drastic blockade earlier than planned, with the state prime minister saying swift action had averted catastrophe.
The number of active cases in the state was 37 after an explosion related to a passenger returning from Britain forced 4,500 people into quarantine.
We have avoided a catastrophic situation in our state by following vague health advice, Prime Minister Steven Marshall said at a news conference.
Neighboring Victoria, which battled the pandemic for months and where 90% of coronavirus-related deaths were recorded in Australia 907, calmed down its mask rules on Sunday, saying they were not required outside and allowed larger public gatherings .
The state, home to an estimated 6.4 million people, has had no new infections in 23 days, a victory that came after an 111-day blockade that kept people at home and most businesses closed.
New South Wales, the most populous state with a quarter of Australia’s 24 million people, reported no new cases of community on Sunday for the 15th day in a row. The state will open its border with Victoria on Monday.
There were 12 new cases reported across Australia among travelers on hotel quarantine. The country, which closed its external borders early, restricts international arrivals and requires a two-week hotel quarantine for incoming travelers.
With just over 27,800 cases, Australia has done better than most other developed nations in fighting COVID-19, thanks to its aggressive response. On Sunday, there were about 88 active cases across the country.
Reporting by Lidia Kelly; Edited by William Mallard
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