Melbourne in Australia to extend its sixth COVID lockdown | Coronavirus pandemic News
The lockdown in Melbourne was due to end on Thursday, but authorities say this is no longer possible due to the increase in cases.
Australian authorities say they will extend the lockdown of the country’s second largest city, Melbourne, as they struggle to quell a coronavirus outbreak caused by the highly infectious variant of the Delta.
Sunday’s announcement came as the number of COVID-19 infections in Victoria state, of which Melbourne is the capital, rose by 92 overnight – the highest number in nearly one year.
There are also 778 active cases in Victoria, according to health data.
Melbourne’s lockdown, its sixth since the start of the pandemic, was due to end on Thursday. But Victoria Premier Dan Andrews said on Sunday that would no longer be possible.
“We still have too many cases in the community for too long for us to open up and give back… those freedoms that we cherish and those freedoms we desperately want back,” Andrews said.
The Melbourne lockdown is currently in its fourth week and includes a curfew, the closure of playing fields and strict exercise limits.
Andrews did not say how long the stay-at-home orders would remain in place, saying officials would “consider all the different options.”
Meanwhile, the neighboring state of New South Wales, which includes Australia’s most populous city, Sydney, recorded 1,218 new cases on Sunday – bringing the country’s overall daily workload to a new record historical.
Almost 19,000 cases have been detected in the state of about eight million people since the start of the Delta variant epidemic in mid-June.
But with vaccination rates soaring in New South Wales and authorities predicting that 70% of adults will be fully vaccinated there by October, residents weary of the extended restrictions have been promised modest freedoms.
In non-susceptible areas, five fully vaccinated adults will be able to congregate outdoors until an hour from mid-September, while authorities have also reported that small marriages will soon be allowed.
Australian leaders have agreed on a national roadmap for reopening the country once immunization targets of 70% and 80% are met in every state and territory.
Currently, only 33.7% of people over 16 have been fully immunized. But at the current rate, 80% could be vaccinated by mid-November.
“Learning to live with the virus is our only hope,” The Age daily said on Sunday, quoting Australian treasurer Josh Frydenberg. “To delay and deny this fact is not only wrong, but incredibly unrealistic. “
The country has recorded more than 51,000 cases of COVID-19 and nearly 1,000 deaths in a population of 25 million since the start of the pandemic.