Australia has reported its highest daily death total since the coronavirus outbreak began.
But it also reported the the smallest number of new daily cases in its virus hotspot, Melbourne, since last month.
The state of Victoria – of which Melbourne is the capital – reported 322 new infections and 19 new deaths on Monday, with 14 of the deaths connected to outbreaks at care homes.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he was more hopeful now that cases are stabilising in Victoria than he has been at any time over the past week.
But state premier Daniel Andrews warned that not too much could be read into a single day’s worth of data, and that some of the state’s most stringent lockdown measures had only come into effect at midnight on Sunday.
The number of new cases was the lowest recorded in Victoria since July 29.
The figures did not include new infections and deaths from other Australian states, although Victoria has been accounting for the vast majority of both in recent weeks.
Since the outbreak began, Australia has reported more than 21,000 cases and more than 300 deaths.
Meanwhile, the emergencies chief for the World Health Organisation said that Covid-19 does not seem to follow the seasonal patterns that some viruses exhibit, making it harder to control.
Unlike other respiratory viruses like influenza that spread mainly in the winter, the coronavirus pandemic is accelerating in the summer. That is despite earlier predictions from some scientists and politicians it would fade in the heat.
“This virus has demonstrated no seasonal pattern as such,” said Dr Michael Ryan at a press briefing. “What it has clearly demonstrated is that if you take the pressure off the virus, the virus bounces back,” he said.
Mr Ryan said the UN health agency continues to advise countries even where Covid-19 appears to be under control, such as those in Europe, to maintain measures to slow the spread of the virus.
He called for countries where transmission remains intense, such as Brazil, to adopt measures so that communities have the necessary support they need to implement strategies like social distancing, wearing masks, and self-isolating if they have symptoms.