Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Sunday defended the country’s lockdown strategy to fight coronavirus outbreaks until at least 70% of the population is fully vaccinated.
Australian police arrested hundreds of people on Saturday during anti-lockdown demonstrations in Sydney and Melbourne, the capitals of the country’s two most populous states, New South Wales and Victoria, which are under strict lockdown.
The federal government announced a plan late last month that envisioned lockdowns as a key strategy to suppress outbreaks until 70% per cent of the population is vaccinated and a gradual reopening of Australian borders when that number reaches 80%.
“You can’t live with lockdowns forever and at some point you have to change that gear and that happens at 70%,” Morrison said in a televised interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corp.
Victoria, in its sixth lockdown since the start of the pandemic, registered 65 locally acquired cases on Sunday. On Saturday, Australia saw its worst number of COVID-19 infections on record, with NSW and Victoria battling a growing outbreak of the highly transmissible Delta strain.
According to Health Ministry data released Saturday, only about 30% of people over the age of 16 have been fully vaccinated, mainly because of the scarce supply of Pfizer (PFE.N) injections and public unease about the AstraZeneca (AZN). .L) vaccine.
The pace has picked up recently as inventories increase and the Delta outbreak continues to spread. A News Poll conducted for the Australian newspaper earlier this month suggests that 11% of Australians said they would flatly refuse to be vaccinated.
Despite the third wave of infections from the Delta variant, COVID-19 numbers in Australia are relatively low, with just over 43,000 cases and 978 deaths.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NewsMadura staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.)