SAWT BEIRUT INTERNATIONAL

| 28 January 2023, Saturday |

Sydney cases dip as Australia debates COVID-19 reopening plans

COVID is a non-profit organization based in Sydney, Australia. As the Australian federal government attempts to encourage states to stick to a national reopening plan once the country obtains a 70 percent -80 percent vaccination coverage, 19 cases reduced slightly on Friday but remained near record levels.

The national cabinet, a gathering of federal and state leaders, will convene later in the day amid concerns from certain states about Sydney’s daily infection levels, which have remained high even after two months of lockdown.

As officials try to contain the Delta outbreak, New South Wales confirmed 882 new cases, the majority of them in the state capital Sydney, down from a high of 1,029 on Thursday.

There have been two more deaths, and 117 patients are in intensive care, 103 of them are unvaccinated.

Despite the rise in illnesses, state officials announced a staggered back-to-school plan beginning in late October, when they expect the immunization rate to rise to 70% from the current 32%.

As the rollout picks up speed, New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she’ll be focusing on vaccination rates and hospitalizations rather than daily case numbers.

“They are the two things that will matter even when we start to enjoy life more freely at 70% and then obviously at 80%… we are beginning to make that mind change in New South Wales,” Berejiklian said during a televised media conference.

VICTORIA MYSTERY CASES

A national reopening plan was agreed between leaders of Australia’s eight states and territories and the federal government last month, when Sydney cases were much lower, but virus-free Queensland and Western Australia have hinted they may not follow it.

More than half of all Australians are under strict stay-at-home orders as Sydney and Melbourne, its largest cities, and capital Canberra, battle outbreaks of the highly contagious Delta variant.

The lockdowns are hitting economic activity with some economists predicting Australia’s A$2 trillion ($1.45 trillion) economy on the brink of a second recession in as many years as data on Friday showed a plunge in July retail sales.

In Victoria state, officials detected 79 new local cases, down from 80 cases on Thursday. Of the new cases, 26 are mystery cases – those whose source is unknown – raising prospects of an extension to the lockdown beyond Sept. 2.

With some 48,600 cases and 991 deaths, Australia has kept its coronavirus numbers relatively low. Officials expect fewer deaths from the latest flare-up versus last year as vaccination rates rise.

So far, 32% of people above 16 has been fully vaccinated and based on current rates, Australia should hit 80% by mid-November. Australia’s expert vaccination panel on Friday approved the use of vaccines for children aged 12-15.

    Source:
  • Reuters