MELBOURNE: Australia on Monday recorded nine new cororavirus deaths and 47 fresh cases, the lowest single-day spike in new infections in the last two months, health officials said.
All the fatalities and 41 of the new cases were reported from Victoria, which is in a stage four lockdown since August 2.
Monday's tally of new cases is the lowest since June 26 in Australia.
On Sunday, Victoria state premier Daniel Andrews announced a five-step strategy to lift the current restrictions.
This plan will be in effect from September 13 to November 23, after which the state will need to maintain a "COVID-free" status for 14 days to finally be declared as "COVID-normal".
The present stage four lockdown will go on till September 28.
Andrews' roadmap aims to keep daily new cases between 30 and 50 till September 28 and fewer than five by late October.
Andrews defended the gradual lifting of restrictions, saying "you cannot run out of (this) lockdown because you will be running into a third wave, resulting in another lockdown."
So far, Victoria has recorded 19,550 COVID-19 cases, while the death toll stands at 675.
Andrews said, "These are difficult times, but to go from 725 cases to 41 cases in a month -- that demonstrates this strategy is working, the sacrifices that we are making are worth something.
" He added, "I want that (sacrifices) to count and that's why we simply can't open up as quickly as everyone would like us to."
"I would like to open up much more quickly than we can, but none of us have the luxury. None of us not me, not any Victorian has the luxury of letting our frustration get the better of us. That's not a recipe for anything other than a third wave," he added.
On Victoria's virus roadmap, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the state's decision to extend the lockdown was "hard and crushing news" for Victorians.
"It is vital to the national interest to restore Victoria to a COVID-safe environment, where we can reopen our economy and reasonably restore the liberties of all Australians, whether in Victoria or anywhere else," he said.
"The proposed roadmap will come at a further economic cost. While this needs to be weighed up against mitigating the risk of further community outbreak, it is also true that the continued restrictions will have further impact on the Victorian and national economy, in further job losses and loss of livelihoods, as well as impacting on mental health," Morrison said on Sunday.
Meanwhile, New South Wales recorded four new coronavirus cases, including three healthcare workers at Liverpool and Concord Hospitals.
Queensland reported two new cases in the last 24 hours.
The coronavirus has so far claimed 762 lives with 26,319 confirmed infections in Australia.