Australia's coronavirus hot spot state of Victoria is set to outline a plan on Sunday to gradually ease its strict lockdown, with infection rates declining more slowly than hoped.
Victoria on Sunday reported 63 new Covid-19 infections and 5 deaths, down from a peak of 725 new cases on Aug. 5, shortly after the state imposed a six-week hard lockdown in its capital Melbourne. At the time, it set an end-date of Sept 13.
The state has been the epicentre of Australia's second wave of the novel coronavirus, now accounting for about 75 percent of the country's 26,270 cases and 90 percent of its 753 deaths.
The country is waiting to hear how state premier Daniel Andrews plans to ease the lockdown, which has dragged on Australia's efforts to pull out of its first recession in nearly 30 years while other states have largely reopened their economies.
Concerned about community transmission, the state is looking for cases to drop to sustainably low numbers before lifting restrictions, but has yet to define the threshold.
Businesses were locked down from March to May before briefly re-opening, then faced tougher restrictions from Aug. 2, which has resulted in thousands of job losses.
The stage 4 restrictions imposed a night-time curfew, shut most of the economy, and limited people's movements to a 5 km (3 mile) zone around their homes for one hour a day.
"No one wants a third wave here. But I think we have to find a practical, achievable, sustainable plan forward that also allows things to get back," Jennifer Westacott, chief executive of the Business Council of Australia, said on Australian Broadcasting Corp TV on Sunday.