Australia Hotspot Can Stop Local Cases Via Compliance, Officials Say

Australia’s state of Victoria has an opportunity to stop community transmission of Covid-19 if its residents stay the course on restrictions imposed on public behavior and social distancing, officials said.

The state had eight new cases in the last 24 hours and three deaths, Victoria’s Department of Health and Human Services said in a Twitter post on Saturday morning. The 14-day rolling average in metropolitan Melbourne dropped to 12.

Victoria has been the center of Australia’s coronavirus outbreak after security failures at quarantine hotels for returned overseas travelers led to a resurgence of community transmission. While a curfew in the state capital was lifted last week, limits on public gatherings of as many as five people still apply until Oct. 19 — although media recorded large groups of people not wearing masks at local beaches late Friday.

“Some of the scenes at beaches overnight are just unacceptable,” Premier Daniel Andrews told reporters. “It’s not smart and it’s not fair. If you want 2021 to be better than 2020 then we have to stay the course.”

Victoria and Australia are at a point where they can progress to a much more normal way of life as other nations tighten their rules amid worsening outbreaks, State Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton told reporters.

“Not every country has the opportunity to get to the point where they can effectively stop community transmission,” he said. “We are not there yet but we have that opportunity.”

Separately, New South Wales state officials reported zero locally transmitted cases for an eighth straight day.

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