Melbourne, Australia's second biggest city, will end a pandemic hard lockdown as planned Thursday night, after health authorities said the enforcement of strict rules had "changed the course" of a Covid-19 outbreak in the city.
Melbourne health officials reported just one new virus case Wednesday.
Some restrictions on travel and indoor and outdoor gatherings would likely remain for another week and the wearing of face masks will continue to be mandatory outdoors in all circumstances, officials said.
Melbourne's 5 million people will get a taste of freedom at 11:59 p.m. Thursday, and step outside their homes after spending two weeks inside, Reuters reported.
"This is a good day. Everyone should be absolutely proud of what we have all achieved together," Channel News Asia quoted Victoria state Acting Premier James Merlino as saying.
Victoria has endured four Covid-19 lockdowns since the pandemic broke out, the longest more than 100 days late last year, and the state has witnessed more than 800 fatalities, 90% of the national tally, based on reports.
Allen Cheng, deputy chief health officer, said face coverings had proven to be effective at reducing the risk of infection from the virus. "It's just a small thing we can do to help prevent infection as everything else begins to move again," he said.
Australia has effectively kept Covid-19 at bay, recording a little more than 30,200 cases and 910 deaths, as a result of speedy contact tracing efforts, lockdowns and strict social distancing rules.
Daily infections have remained in single-digit figures on most days of the lockdown and cases were all traced back to the highly-contagious Delta virus strain, found amongst them late last week, according to Reuters.
Meanwhile, the Pan-American Health Organization Wednesday said if the spread of the virus continues at current rates it will be years before it is contained in the Americas.
Last week, nearly 1.2 million new infections and 34,000 deaths were reported in the region.
Four of the five nations with the highest death figures globally are in the Americas, Carissa Etienne, organization chief, said during the organization's weekly news conference.