Australia on track to record zero COVID-19 cases for second straight day

File Photo: Melbourne CBD

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia is on course to record its second straight day of zero local COVID-19 cases, helped by tougher restrictions on public movement and internal borders, but authorities continued to urge more people to get tested to track undetected cases.

Australia has been seeking to contain fresh virus outbreaks since last month with impacted regions placed under lockdown and masks made mandatory indoors but infection rates seem to have stabilised after low cases in recent days.

New South Wales (NSW), the country’s most populous state, flagged it could ease restrictions soon if testing numbers rise as more tests could help trace all unknown infections.

“We won’t have the confidence to move forward and have those easing until we have those high rates of testing, but we are on the right path,” NSW state Premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters.

Queensland state, which came out of a snap three-day lockdown in state capital Brisbane earlier this week to help avoid the spread of a new highly contagious COVID-19 variant, reported its third straight day of no local cases.

Victoria, Australia’s second-most populous state, continued its good run of no cases for the ninth day, while NSW reported no cases for the second straight day.

The virus has been effectively eliminated in other states and territories and most cases are detected in returning travellers from overseas in hotel quarantine.

Australia has reported a total of just over 28,600 COVID-19 cases and 909 deaths since the pandemic began, with border closures and speedy tracking systems helping keep numbers relatively low.