The Australian state of Victoria has eliminated COVID-19 after completing 28 days without a single case.
The state reached the 28th “double doughnut day” — meaning no new COVID-19 cases or deaths on Nov. 27 — following a hard lockdown to contain a severe second-wave of infections that lasted from July 9 to Oct. 27. The state, which implemented widespread testing, mandatory masks and harsh stay home orders, accounts for over 90% of Australia's 907 deaths.
Epidemiologists widely use the 28-day goal to indicate the elimination of COVID-19 from the community.
Australian epidemiologist Mike Toole congratulated Victoria on the milestone, but warned the state’s 6 million citizens to remain vigilant. A third wave could very quickly occur, Toole explained, citing Victoria’s hotel quarantine catastrophe — in which security guards breached infection control causing the second-wave outbreak — as a prime example of how easily things can go wrong.
"We should expect the virus to return at some point,” Toole said, according to the Age. "It is the elimination of local transmission in Victoria, and that has been that case for two full incubation periods. But that doesn't mean there isn't someone in the community with no symptoms who never got tested, though it's probably unlikely."
Congratulations Victoria, 28 consecutive days of 0 new cases reported 💕— VicGovDHHS (@VicGovDHHS) November 26, 2020
Yesterday there were 0 lives lost and 9,828 test results received. There are 0 active cases.
More detail: https://t.co/pcll7ySEgz#StaySafeStayOpen#COVID19VicDatapic.twitter.com/bOrsxTQn3q
Victoria joins the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, Queensland and Tasmania in recording no new cases in the past 24 hours. The only state with locally acquired cases as of Nov. 27 is South Australia, while Victoria, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory have no active cases at all within their respective states and territories.
The entire country recorded just 13 cases on Nov. 26.
"When you look at Australia compared to the rest of the world, well frankly there is no comparison," Prime Minister Scott Morrison said, according to the ABC. "Australia is in a handful of countries that stand out not just for how we've suppressed the virus, but how we have mitigated the economic impact on Australia.”
Beyond enforcing strict measures to contain the virus, Australia has also pledged millions to address the pandemic’s social and economic consequences locally and internationally, backed countless clinical COVID-19 trials and joined global partnerships to ensure the protection of the world’s poorest people.
Over $800 million in aid has been pledged to assist Australia’s closest neighbours in the Pacific and Southeast Asia.
In September, Canberra also joined the COVAX Facility, a landmark agreement that ensures the world’s most vulnerable individuals gain equitable access to future COVID-19 vaccines. Australia also pledged a separate $80 million to the Facility’s fund designed to help developing nations specifically.
Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt said the decision to join COVAX was easy.
"Whoever finds a COVID-19 vaccine must share it,” he said in a statement. “Being a part of COVAX means we’re giving Australians the best chance of accessing a safe and effective vaccine, but also our neighbours in the Pacific and Southeast Asia.”
"A COVID-19 vaccine is the best way to protect the Australian community,” Hunt added.
Launched in April by seven global partners, the ACT-Accelerator is a unique coalition aimed at accelerating global efforts against the COVID-19 pandemic. Its members are working together to develop tests, treatments, and vaccines as quickly as possible, while also strengthening the world’s most fragile health systems.
But the organisation desperately needs financial support from governments around the world. You can join us in calling on world leaders to fund the ACT-Accelerator by taking action here.