Some Australian states are announcing plans to lift internal border restrictions this month, a sign of confidence that the summer’s outbreak is under control.
Queensland, which had no new cases Tuesday, will expand its “border bubble” next month to include swaths of neighboring New South Wales, which on Tuesday marked its first day with no locally transmitted infections since July. The change will allow roughly 152,000 New South Wales residents to enter Queensland without undergoing a 14-day quarantine period, although border-crossers will still have to fill out a form declaring their travel plans.
Testing wastewater for traces of covid-19 has revealed that the virus is not circulating undetected in Queensland and nearby communities in New South Wales, Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said Tuesday, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corp. “We’re all gaining more experience around the country with looking at sewage,” she said. “That gives us a heads up, and an idea of what’s going on in that community.”
South Australia will also reopen its borders to New South Wales residents this week, assuming that no new “mystery cases” from unknown sources pop up Tuesday. South Australia has not documented any instances of community transmission for two weeks, officials said Tuesday.
Case counts are also down in Victoria, the epicenter of Australia’s second coronavirus outbreak. On Tuesday, 28 new infections were reported — more than double the 11 cases disclosed on Monday, but still a significant drop from July, when more than 700 cases were reported on a day. Melbourne, where the largest number of cases were found, is “absolutely on track” to have some restrictions lifted by the end of the month, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said Tuesday.
Andrews also said that the higher numbers on Tuesday reflected increased testing over the weekend. More than 11,000 tests were carried out on Sunday alone, a tally notably higher than previous weekends, he told reporters.