Victoria state in Australia reported no new coronavirus cases ahead of Christmas — a miracle of sorts for 2020. The state, however, has in place restrictions on travelers from some other parts of the country, like New South Wales, which on Wednesday reported nine new cases.
“The virus doesn’t stop for Christmas; we don’t stop for Christmas,” Victoria’s testing chief Jeroen Weimar told Australian media. “If you’ve got symptoms on Christmas Day, go and get tested on Christmas Day.”
The government of New South Wales, which is Australia’s most populous state, announced Wednesday that new case levels were low enough for it to ease restrictions limiting social gatherings for the duration of Christmas.
“Can I be very clear that whatever we have in place today goes back on the 27th and in between, they’re very modest tweaks and modest changes to account for the fact that everybody has had a very difficult year,” said State Premier Gladys Berejiklian, according to Reuters.
Under the loosened rules, residents of Greater Sydney can host up to 10 people, while the city’s harder-hit northern suburbs are permitted five guests from the area.
New Zealand — a world leader in efforts to eliminate the virus — has recorded 49 active coronavirus cases, nine of which were newly detected in travelers from abroad, according to the ministry of health.
The country has instituted strict border restrictions to curtail international travelers who could bring in the virus. That means some families this Christmas will have to remain apart due to the travel ban — but those inside the country will be able to celebrate together.
Vietnam has been another leader in controlling the coronavirus. On Nov. 30, the country reported its first case of local transmission in 89 days — just 10 days short of the previous streak of 99 days, broken in July. Vietnam has in place strict restrictions on international travel and a robust contact tracing system.
Taiwan on Tuesday broke a streak of no recorded locally transmitted coronavirus cases for 253 days, after a pilot from New Zealand tested positive. As of Dec. 1, masks are required in many public places in Taiwan — and that vigilance seems to have paid off.
In Rwanda, in response to the pandemic, the government has permitted religious groups to gather only once a week for prayer services at 50 percent capacity. Most Christians gather on Sundays, but authorities will allow congregations to hold services on Christmas, a Friday, as well, according to local media.
“Christmas, to Christians, is more than an ordinary day; and we are cognizant of that,” Minister of Local Government Anastase Shyaka told Rwanda’s New Times. “This time, churches that are already operating will hold service on Christmas.”
“Like we urged church leaders during a recent meeting we had with them, they should double efforts in observing covid-19 preventive measures,” he said.