SAWT BEIRUT INTERNATIONAL

| 5 August 2021, Thursday |

Australia’s Victoria state expects further easing of COVID-19 curbs

Acting Premier James Merlino of Victoria, Australia, indicated on Sunday that the state plans to issue more COVID-19 restrictions this week, as the state reported a new locally acquired infection for the second day in a row.

According to Victoria’s health agency, the current illness was a close contact of a previously reported case that had already been confined.

Australia’s second-most-populous state has recorded 92 cases in its latest wave of COVID-19 infections, which triggered a two-week snap lockdown late last month. Victoria emerged from the lockdown on Friday as new cases declined, but some physical distancing rules remain.

“My expectation is by later in the week, we will be in a position to announce further easing of restrictions for regional Victoria and … for metropolitan Melbourne,” Merlino said.

Merlino also stated that he wanted to encourage people to return to athletic events and the theater, though he had no specific statement to make at this time.

Residents of Melbourne can only travel up to 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) from home under current restrictions, and outdoor gatherings are limited to 10 persons. Masks are mandatory in all public locations, whether indoors and out.

More than 3,000 primary close contacts of infected cases have been placed under quarantine, with 122 exposure sites noted on the Victorian government website.

Australia has fared much better than many other developed countries during the pandemic, with more than 22,300 local COVID-19 cases and 910 deaths since March 2020, mostly in Victorian aged-care homes.

Prior outbreaks were contained thanks to quick lockdowns, internal border restrictions, and strict social distancing laws.

After an infected woman and her husband traveled from Victoria through various country communities in both states, New South Wales, Australia’s most populated state, and bordering Queensland are on high alert.

With no new cases reported on Sunday, New South Wales, which contains Sydney, has gone almost a month without reporting any locally acquired infection, while Queensland last reported cases in late March.