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Australian state extends lockdown as Covid-19 cases surge

SYDNEY: Australia’s second most populous state of Victoria will extend its lockdown as the state’s daily increase of local transmission stood on triple figures for the first time in the current outbreak.

Victoria reported 120 new locally acquired cases and two deaths on Wednesday.

“Due to the ongoing level of community transmission and the continued number of unlinked cases popping up across the state, Victoria’s lockdown will be extended,” said a statement from Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews.

“Victorians cannot afford to open up and let this virus run free. Our hospital system would be overrun. Our frontline staff would be placed under too much pressure and quite simply people would die. We need to continue to slow the spread of the virus until more of us are vaccinated,” he said.

He stressed that almost all of the current lockdown restrictions will remain in place until 70 percent of Victorians have had at least one dose of vaccine, which is estimated to be around September 23.

Last week, Victoria expanded Pfizer vaccine access at state-run hubs to people over 16, however, the shortage of supply still hampers the race against the virus. As of Wednesday, more than 2.4 million doses were administered in the state.

Despite the extended lockdown, the government will reopen playgrounds  from Friday to children under 12 with only one parent or carer, and QR codes scanning is required for checking in.

In-home care, like babysitters, will also be expanded to school aged children but only if both parents are authorized workers.

Andrews said the authorities will look to ease restrictions a little further when 70 percent of Victorians have had at least one vaccine dose.

From September 7 until September 17, Victoria students of year 12, their teachers and examiners will be given priority booking access at the state-run clinics as part of a priority vaccination program to help the students better prepared for the Victorian Certificate of Education exam.  (Xinhua)


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