The Australian state of Victoria reported a second consecutive daily drop in new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, with its first-dose vaccination rate approaching the 70% level, where some restrictions imposed to contain an outbreak of the Delta variant will be relaxed.
Authorities have promised to double the travel limit for 5 million residents of the locked-in state capital Melbourne, 10 km (6 miles) and to allow an additional hour of outdoor exercise when the The state will meet this vaccination target.
With about 68% of adults in the state having received a first dose of the vaccine, it is expected to rise to 70% this week as new supplies roll out, about a week ahead of schedule.
Victoria reported 423 new locally acquired COVID-19 cases, up from 445 on Tuesday, and two new deaths.
Australia is struggling to quell a third wave of infections that has hit its two largest cities, Sydney and Melbourne, and the capital Canberra, forcing nearly half of the country’s 25 million people to tight restrictions on home stay.
Sydney, the epicenter of the Delta outbreak, on Tuesday recorded its lowest number of cases in nearly two weeks, although authorities said it was still not clear whether infections had peaked.
Sydney and Melbourne have focused on rapid vaccinations to start easing restrictions, moving away from an earlier COVID-zero strategy.
A four-step national reopening plan unveiled by the federal government in July urges states and territories to live with the virus once vaccinations cover 70 to 80 percent of the adult population. About 43% of adults have been fully immunized nationally.
Despite the recent outbreaks in Delta, the number of coronaviruses in Australia is relatively low, with some 77,000 cases and 1,104 deaths.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by DAILYNEWSCATCH staff and is posted from a syndicated feed.)