COVID-19 cases in Australia’s Victoria hovered near record levels on Friday, although authorities appear to lift restrictions on closure next week in Melbourne, the capital, as the state approaches a major milestone for vaccination.
A total of 2,179 new locally acquired cases were reported in Victoria, the majority in Melbourne, from a record 2,297 a day earlier. The Prime Minister of the State Daniel Andrews has said that some curbs will make it easier next week when Victoria’s double dose vaccination levels compete against 70% from 63% now.
Australia had remained largely virus-free for most of this year until a third wave of infections driven by the fast-moving Delta variant spread across its southeast from the end of June, forcing a month-long lockdown in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra. .
Canberra, the national capital, ended its more than two-month shutdown on Friday, so that cafes, pubs and gyms could reopen with strict social distance rules.
Sydney lifted its home orders earlier this week and the city’s 5 million residents were able to enjoy more freedoms from Monday, as double-dose vaccination levels are expected to rise to 80% over the weekend – the level where officials have promised to release more restrictions.
However, travel to regional areas from Greater Sydney will be delayed until November 1 due to lower vaccination rates there compared to Sydney, New South Wales Deputy Prime Minister Paul Toole told the 2 GB radio station on Friday.
Daily infections in New South Wales fell further to 399 from 406 on Thursday, well below the state’s highest pandemic of 1,599 in early September.
The federal government has pressured states to reopen their borders, but some virus-free states have said they may delay resumption plans amid fears that a rapid reopening could overwhelm their health systems.
The country’s total coronavirus numbers are still relatively low, with around 139,000 cases and 1,506 deaths.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)