Victoria's stunning defeat of the second wave of coronavirus puts it in rare company with only a handful on places, experts say.
Melbourne will be easing more restrictions today after back-to-back days with zero new coronavirus cases and zero new deaths.
Pubs and restaurants and cafes are allowed to open from midnight tonight and family visits are expected to be allowed in the home soon.
It is a world away from the lowest point of Victoria's lockdown in July when daily case numbers topped 700, a curfew was imposed and businesses were shuttered — some of which will never recover.
Premier Daniel Andrews' handling of the pandemic was not without its mistakes, including the hotel quarantine bungle that sparked the second wave and led to hundreds of deaths.
But the model he used — one that proved hugely unpopular with a large number of Victorians — is being studied around the world.
Epidemiologist from the University of South Australia, Professor Adrian Esterman, says only Hong Kong and Vietnam have achieved what Victoria has.
"They are the only two countries to have successfully crushed the second wave.
"However, they are both somewhat authoritarian regimes".
In Hong Kong, the second wave peaked on July 30 when 149 new cases were recorded. It followed single digit daily increases for almost all of April, May and June.
The wave hit hard and Hong Kong responded with blanket lockdowns. They are now reopening schools and fine-tuning travel bubble arrangements with other Asian countries in similar positions, including Singapore.
As has been noted elsewhere, Hong Kong and its Asian neighbours benefited from epidemic plans that were already in place prior to the Covid-19 outbreak in Wuhan.
Large parts of Europe, now in the grip of a widespread and devastating second wave, had nothing of the sort.
Vietnam, like Victoria, defeated its second wave, but it did so with a mix of hard and fast rules and creative initiatives to influence good behaviour — including a viral song about handwashing.
They locked people down in April to stifle a first wave only for it to return in mid-August, much worse this time.
Michael Toole, Professor of International Health at the Burnet Institute, wrote in The Conversation this week that Vietnam's response had been a huge success.
"As during the first wave, blanket testing was conducted in Da Nang, transport in and out of the city was cancelled, and bars and restaurants closed.
"The same local measures were implemented in certain neighbourhoods in Hanoi when new cases were identified. The country has not reported any community transmission since early September."
Esterman says what Victoria did proves that the approach Andrews took was successful and stands the state in good stead regarding the prospect of a third wave.
"Most Victorians that I have been in contact with really understood the importance of containing the second wave, and were willing to make the sacrifices to do it," he told news.com.au.
"Of course, it has been particularly hard for those living alone, those with mental health problems, those who have lost their jobs, and business owners. But now they can reap the benefits with the rest of Australia.
"There are always the whingers, and the tinfoil hat brigade, but thankfully they appear to be in the minority."
He said Victoria's success has been hard fought and required significant changes, including improvements in contact tracing.
"Victoria started off the second wave in a poor place: below par contact tracing team, some poor government decisions, poor communication especially with their non-English speaking population, and simple bad luck.
"However, all those things [apart from the bad luck] have been corrected, and I give credit to the government for an enormous effort. Even more kudos goes to everyday Victorians."
He called the prospect of a third wave "pretty low".
"After the current experience, upgraded contact tracing and better communication from the Victorian government, any small outbreak should be able to be contained."
News.com.au last week reported that Melbourne had endured one of the longest Covid-19 lockdowns in the world.
Epidemiologist from Deakin University, Dr Catherine Bennett, said Victoria's achievement was of international significance.
"The best comparison we found was Singapore.
"It's the only one that's really had a second wave and then brought it under control.
"They closed retail and all the rest. Although, they started releasing some of those restrictions earlier."
The Premier yesterday thanked Victorians for the role they played in turning the second wave around. He acknowledged their incredible sacrifices.
"Now is the time to congratulate every single Victorian for staying the course," he said. "Now is the time to thank every single Victorian family for being guided by the data, the science and the doctors."
Prime Minister Scott Morrison was equally grateful for Victoria's efforts.
"Victorians have worked hard and sacrificed a lot to get to this point. We thank them for their patience and perseverance," he said.
"Today's announcement is a reflection of the dedication and effort of Victorians – taking the next step to reopen Victorian society and the state's economy.
"After a long winter, there is light at the end of the tunnel for Victorians."