SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia’s coronavirus hotspot state Victoria reported its 800th death from the virus on Thursday, but low case numbers raised the prospect of a “COVID-normal” 2021 without lockdowns or social restrictions, said the state premier.
“We’re confident we’ll be able to build a COVID-normal Christmas, a COVID-normal summer and a virus at such a low level that we can sustain that over the long term,” Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews told reporters in Melbourne.
“That may even be for the majority, or indeed the entirety of 2021.”
Victoria, the country’s second most populous state, accounts for 90% of national COVID-19 deaths. Australia, with 888 fatalities, has fared far better than many other developed countries.
The lower numbers came after a stringent lockdown of Victoria’s state capital Melbourne. The strict measures are set to remain in place until the average for new daily cases over a two-week window falls below five.
Victoria on Thursday reported 15 new cases, pushing the two-week average below 16.
As fears of a second national COVID-19 wave eased, Queensland state on Thursday said it would reduce restrictions on some people entering from Australia’s most populous state, New South Wales (NSW).
Queensland hotels, clubs and dining venues can now have double the number of patrons outdoors, with capacity limited to one person per two square metres, while up to 1,000 people can attend outdoor events, Queensland state Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said.
NSW reported no locally acquired cases of COVID-19 for the sixth straight day. The state reported three new cases with two in quarantine while the third is an old case that was added to the tally. Queensland state reported no new cases.
Australia’s other three states and two territories have no or few local cases or only imported cases.
Reporting by Renju Jose and Colin Packham; Editing by Tom Hogue and Michael Perry
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.