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Australia’s Melbourne prepares to exit world’s longest Covid lockdown

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Despite the delta wave, Australia has recorded only about 152,000 Covid cases (File)

Sydney:

Millions of people in Melbourne prepared to come out of the world’s longest COVID-19 lockdown on Thursday night as the state of Victoria hit a major vaccination target, with pubs, restaurants and cafes re-opening their doors to fully vaccinated customers. running to open.

Melbourne residents are enduring their sixth pandemic lockdown since early August to contain an outbreak that has been spread by the Delta strain. Officials ramped up the state’s vaccination campaign before easing restrictions, even as daily cases are hovering near record levels.

According to Australian media, as of Friday, the city of five million will have spent a cumulative 262 days, or nearly nine months, under a stay-home order since March 2020 – the world’s longest, exceeding the 234-day lockdown in Buenos Aires.

Officials promised to lift the lockdown once double-dose vaccination for people over the age of 16 in Victoria exceeded 70%. Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed reaching that target on Thursday, with more restrictions easing as vaccination reaches 80% and 90%.

“The longest road ever traveled in Victoria and that long road really started to open up tonight,” Morrison told Seven News on Thursday.

From 11:59 pm (1359 GMT) on Thursday nights, pubs and cafes can have 20 fully vaccinated indoors and 50 outdoors, while hairdressers can allow entry for up to five customers.

As businesses prepare to welcome customers, daily infections rose to 2,232 in Victoria on Thursday, the second highest in the pandemic and a majority in the state capital Melbourne, not far from the 2,297 hit a week earlier.

Australia has abandoned its COVID-zero approach and is slowly moving back to normality as vaccinations increased after being shaken by a third wave of infections from mid-June from the delta variant.

Sydney and Canberra, the national capital, came out of lockdown last week after accelerating through their vaccination targets. Other states are COVID free or have very few cases.

Cases in New South Wales, home of Sydney, rose for a third straight day on Thursday, from 283 a day earlier to 372.

Despite the delta wave, Australia has only recorded about 152,000 cases and 1,590 deaths, far fewer than many comparable countries.

(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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