Queensland has reached a major virus milestone, reporting no new cases of COVID-19 for the first time in more than two months.
It is the first time since March 9 that there were no new cases and leaves the state’s total at 1019.
“This is an absolutely tremendous effort,” Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said on Monday.
“If we can keep this up over the coming weeks, I’m sure that’s going to mean we will be able to make some changes and ease some of those restrictions on the population.”
Two popular Gold Coast beaches have now reopened, but day-trippers have been warned not to be tempted to visit.
Surfers Paradise and Coolangatta beaches were closed earlier this month after crowds of people flocked to the area despite travel restrictions.
The Spit and beachfront car parks will remain closed to discourage visitors.
“I want to discourage out-of-towners from coming to our beaches. It is not essential travel. Stay within your postcode,” Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate said on Monday.
He said Gold Coasters had been distancing themselves and reopening the beaches was one small step toward normality.
One researcher has suggested a targeted approach to help gradually lift the state’s ongoing semi-lockdown.
Professor Raja Jurdak, from the Queensland University of Technology’s Centre for Data Science, specialises in tracking infectious disease outbreaks based on people’s movement patterns.
He says data about transmission sources and location or transport route hotspots could shape better targeting of restrictions instead of blanket rules for everyone.
But that means Australia needs to talk about privacy and what people are comfortable with.
“We need to have a transparent conversation about what the public has to say about privacy and whether some individual freedoms can be relaxed at this critical point to secure public health benefits,” Professor Jurdak said.
“If we had all that data about where people are moving and who they are in contact with then we would be able to zoom in and control the spread of the disease much faster.
“That would then better inform the public and influence policy decisions.”
The federal government has already announced it will release an app in the next fortnight using location data to track down people who have come in contact with others carrying the deadly disease.
At least 40 per cent of the population needs to sign up to the app to make it effective, however, many have raised concerns about how the data will be used.
Annastacia Palaszczuk has urged Queenslanders to continue to practice social distancing until experts deem it safe to loosen the restrictions.
Just 20 people are in hospital, with seven of them in intensive care on ventilators in the state’s southeast.
Of those who have tested positive, 738 patients have recovered, while six Queenslanders have died.
The state’s chief medical officer, Dr Jeanette Young, said officials are considering which restrictions could be rolled back without leading to a blowout in new cases.
“Of course we’ve seen in other countries, reductions to near-zero levels of cases and then a second wave of infection,” Health Minister Steven Miles said.
“So we need to be very cautious, we need to keep up our current approach.
“But if we can sustain this, then the end is in sight.”