Australian authorities on Wednesday extended the COVID-19 lockdown in Melbourne for a further three weeks as they shift their focus to rapid vaccination campaigns and move away from a suppression strategy to reduce cases to zero.
Victorian Prime Minister Daniel Andrews signaled a steady easing of strict restrictions once 70% of the state’s adult residents have received at least one dose, a milestone he hopes to reach at least by September 23, based on current vaccination rates. .
“We’ve thrown everything into this, but it’s clear to us now that we’re not going to lower these numbers, but instead increase them,” Andrews told reporters in Melbourne, the state’s capital, after nearly a year of lockdown. . month failed to suppress the outbreak. The lockdown would end on Thursday.
“We need to buy time to get vaccinations done while doing this very hard work, this very painful and difficult work, to keep the cases under control as much as possible.”
New local cases jumped to 120 in Victoria from 76 a day earlier. Of the new cases, 100 have spent time in the community while contagious.
The neighboring state of New South Wales, home to Sydney, on Wednesday pushed forward its target date to fully vaccinate 70% of people over 16 to mid-next month from its original target set in late October, as outbreaks caused an increase in immunization.
“Wherever you live, life will be much, much better, much freer, as long as you’re 70% vaccinated,” Berejiklian told reporters. So far, 37% have been fully vaccinated in the state, while 67% have had at least one dose, slightly higher than the national numbers but well below most comparable countries.
A total of 1,116 new cases were detected in New South Wales, up from 1,164 a day earlier. NSW reported four new deaths, bringing the total number of deaths in the latest outbreak to 100.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison told parliament on Wednesday that Australians should eventually be taken out of lockdown.
“Australia can live with this virus,” he said in Canberra.
Living with Covid
Australia is trying to get a handle on the third wave of infections that has trapped more than half of its 25 million inhabitants. Sydney and Melbourne, the largest cities, and the capital Canberra have weeks of strict stay-at-home orders.
Despite its recent flare-ups, it has managed to keep the number of coronaviruses relatively low, with just over 55,000 cases and 1,012 deaths.
Of the Group of 20 major economies, Australia was the last to record 1,000 COVID-19 deaths, a grim but modest milestone reached this week by global standards.
Several major economies in Asia and the Pacific have fewer COVID-19 deaths, with only 26 in New Zealand.
While Australian authorities had managed to contain previous outbreaks through lockdowns, the highly contagious Delta variant has forced the country’s two largest states to plan for a reopening even as the number of infections rises.
Chris Moy, vice president of the Australian Medical Association, told Reuters that Delta’s high infectivity, short incubation period and asymptomatic spread had meant the “old script didn’t work”.
“Your chance at the beginning of eliminating it is so much smaller, and once you get past that, Delta decides its fate,” Moy said.
The federal government is urging states and territories to stick to a national reopening plan once vaccination rates reach 70-80%, although some virus-free states said they could face delays given Sydney’s rapidly rising cases.
Federal treasurer Josh Frydenberg urged state leaders to follow national reopening plans.
“Stick to the plan…a plan that will allow businesses to reopen and plan for their own future…a plan that will help Australia live safely with the virus,” Frydenberg said.
(This story was not edited by NewsMadura staff and was generated automatically from a syndicated feed.)