In an incredible new milestone, four Australian states and territories have the reduced the number of active coronavirus cases to zero.
Tasmania has become the latest state to achieve the impressive feat. According to federal government figures, Tasmania has seen a total of just 228 cases in total. Thirteen people have died in the state from the disease.
South Australia, the Northern Territory and the ACT have also reported no active cases of the virus.
The ACT first reached zero known active cases on April 30. It recorded one new case four days later before returning to zero for most of May. It confirmed another new case on June 7, returning to zero known active cases on June 17.
SA first reached the milestone on May 16, but 10 days later recorded one new case. It returned to zero on June 4.
The NT has had no known active cases since May 21.
Active cases are calculated by taking total case numbers and deducting recovered cases and deaths.
Despite a positive picture emerging from these four areas, nationwide there has been a rise in the number of active cases to 412 after months of steady declines.
There were 2306 active cases of COVID-19 on April 19 but the numbers fell every week as recovered cases outnumbered new ones.
However, this all came to an end on Sunday when the numbers hit a low of 380.
Active cases nationwide rose to 382 on Monday, 389 on Tuesday, 398 on Wednesday, 412 on Thursday, according to figures compiled by the federal government.
This spike is being largely driven by outbreaks in Victoria, with the majority of them stemming from security guards at a hotel with quarantined travellers, leading to a sudden increase in new cases and concerns about community transmission.
Meanwhile, the number of active cases in NSW has been largely steady over the past week. It rose from 308 on Saturday to 314 on Sunday and has varied from 317 to 319 in the days since.
Victoria’s concerning rise in cases this week has authorities vigilant as the next step to ease restrictions looms.
Thirteen new cases were recorded on Friday, 18 on Thursday and 21 on Wednesday, resulting in the state’s biggest increase in more than a month.
While the rest of the country’s COVID-19 infections decline, Victoria’s active cases rose to 91 on Friday, up from 66 four weeks ago.
Authorities are relieved that they know the links to most of the cases – many of whom are returned travellers or linked to them.
“We’re hoping that this isn’t the beginning of a second wave and we’re doing everything we absolutely can to make sure that that’s not the case,” Victorian Deputy Chief Health Officer Annaliese van Diemen said.
Of most concern to authorities is a cluster stemming from Melbourne’s Stamford Plaza Hotel after five security contractors tested positive overnight.
The five employees had worked shifts over a similar period at the hotel.
“We have a couple of hundred workers in quarantine at this point in time,” Dr van Diemen said.
“There’s a large cohort of security guards and other workers and unfortunately it does appear that quite a few of them have worked for single or multiple days whilst infectious.
“We do expect that there will quite possibly be further cases linked to that outbreak and that won’t be a huge surprise unfortunately.”
She said it did appear the hotel employees had reportedly flouted social-distancing requirements.
Gyms, cinemas, indoor sports centres and concert venues are scheduled to reopen on Monday while cafes, restaurants and pubs will increase capacity from 20 people to 50.
Overall, 1792 Victorians have been recorded with the virus, though 1680 have recovered.
Five people are in hospital, including two patients in intensive care. Nineteen people have died.