FILE PHOTO: A lonely man wearing a protective face mask sits in the unusually quiet State Library on the first day of lockdown, as the state of Victoria looks to prevent the spread of a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Melbourne, Australia Is. July 16, 2021. Reuters/Sandra Sanders
September 14, 2021
SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia’s state of Victoria on Tuesday reported an easing of new COVID-19 infections as it looks to accelerate vaccination rollouts in Melbourne’s hardest-hit suburbs, the state capital.
A total of 445 new locally acquired cases were detected, down from the year’s highest of 473 a day earlier. Two new deaths have been reported.
Melbourne is expected to come out of an extended lockdown through higher vaccination rates after scrapping a strategy to eliminate the virus as authorities struggle to contain an outbreak spread by the highly contagious Delta variant.
The federal government plans to transfer an additional 417,000 vaccine doses over the next three weeks to residents of Melbourne’s north and west, where the majority of new infections are being detected. Pop-up hubs will be set up in schools, community centers and places of worship.
Nearly half of Australia’s 25 million population is under lockdown, including those in Sydney and Melbourne, its largest cities and the capital, Canberra, as the country grapples with a third wave of infections.
Still, its coronavirus numbers are far lower than comparable countries, with about 75,700 cases and 1,100 deaths, and the death rate in the latest outbreak is lower than last year because of higher vaccinations among vulnerable people.
Officials expect some of the toughest restrictions to be eased once the two-dose vaccination rate in the adult population reaches 70%, and then more restrictions now eased from 42% to 80%.
(Reporting by Renju Jose; Editing by Stephen Coates)