Australia says active COVID-19 cases at near two-month low

CANBERRA (Reuters) – Australia has fewer than 50 active cases of COVID-19, official data released on Tuesday showed, the lowest number in nearly two months, although authorities warned against complacency.

A patient with COVID-19 in the state of Victoria has been transferred to an intensive care unit, the first such case in over two weeks, while authorities are still investigating a case in a worker at a quarantine hotel for returned travellers.

Victoria state Premier Dan Andrews said the unnamed person transferred to intensive care caught the virus overseas and had recently returned to Australia.

Australia’s most populous state, New South Wales, which has now gone 23 days without detecting any local cases of COVID-19, also warned of a drop-off in testing rates among the community.

“High testing rates are vital to giving us the best chance of finding any new cases and preventing new chains of transmission from becoming established,” the state government said in an emailed statement.

Australia has escaped a high number of casualties from the new coronavirus, with just over 28,800 infections and 909 deaths, aided by strict lockdown measures and social distancing rules.

At 46 cases, the number of people currently diagnosed with the virus is at its lowest level since Dec. 15.

COVID-19 vaccinations are expected to begin later this month.