CANBERRA: Australia has recorded no new locally transmitted coronavirus infection for the first time in five months.
In Melbourne, the capital of Victoria state, which had the highest number of cases in the country, residents were enjoying the first weekend of cafes, restaurants and pubs reopening to walk-in customers.
The city only has one mystery case without a known source. There are 61 active cases left across the state, down from 70 on Saturday.
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State Deputy Premier James Merlino hailed Sunday’s zero figures as “another great day for Victoria”, but urged caution ahead of Australia’s most prestigious horse race on Tuesday, the Melbourne Cup, known as the “race that stops a nation”.
Australians traditionally gather in bars or in private homes to watch the event, a public holiday.
The race attracts crowds of more than 100,000 at Melbourne’s Flemington racecourse, but this year it will be held without fans because of restrictions on public gatherings.
Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton urged Victorians to enjoy the Cup but to continue obeying guidance on mask-wearing and social distancing.
“The great majority of Melburnians know what to do,” Sutton said. “There will be a few who may be a bit liberal in their behaviour."
Sutton said the new wave of infections in Europe showed how quickly the coronavirus can reassert itself.
“What Europe is going through now is a consequence of not being able to get to this point where you can stay on top of very low numbers,” he said. “What we have created is very precious and we need to hold onto it tightly.”
Western Australia state on Sunday recorded one new case of COVID-19, a woman who returned from overseas and is in hotel quarantine.