Australia appears to be heading for its lowest daily increase in coronavirus cases in three months, as a state leader said infection spikes in Europe served as a warning about the dangers of exiting lockdown too soon.
In the country’s virus epicentre, Victoria, some of the toughest lockdown restrictions in the world were imposed in the city of Melbourne after a spike in cases last month.
Daily infections in the state had risen to over 700 at the time, but in the 24 hours to Sunday morning it recorded 14 new cases, down from 21 new cases the day before and the lowest number since 19 June.
Victoria is now on track to meet a target of keeping average daily increases below 50 by 28 September, when authorities have said they may consider lifting restrictions.
The state’s premier, Daniel Andrews, said the numbers are a “cause for great optimism and positivity”.
But after facing pressure over his hard-line approach to coronavirus restrictions, he pointed to recent surges in cases in Europe.
“It’s heartbreaking to see, all that those communities have given, all the sacrifice that they’ve made, and now they’ve got cases running perhaps more wildly than their first wave,” he said.
“You’ve got to see it off.”
Cases have remained low in other Australian states, including New South Wales, which reported two new cases.
Queensland also recorded two infections, bringing the national total to 18, the lowest national tally since 23 June.
Australia’s five other states and territories had not reported daily case numbers by Sunday morning, but have not reported any increases most days for weeks.
Victoria recorded five additional coronavirus-related deaths and NSW reported one in the previous 24 hours, taking the national death toll to 850.
Meanwhile, cases have risen in many European countries, including the UK, where the government has warned of an impending second wave.