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Australia's Melbourne extends sixth coronavirus lockdown

Almost seven million people in Melbourne and surrounding Victoria state were scheduled to exit a four-week lockdown on Thursday, but state premier Dan Andrews said it would no longer be possible with case numbers rising by 92 overnight.

August 29, 2021 / 09:55 AM IST

A lockdown of Australia's second-biggest city Melbourne will be extended, authorities announced Sunday as they struggle to quash a stubborn coronavirus Delta variant outbreak.

Almost seven million people in Melbourne and surrounding Victoria state were scheduled to exit a four-week lockdown on Thursday, but state premier Dan Andrews said it would no longer be possible with case numbers rising by 92 overnight.

It is the city's sixth lockdown of the pandemic, and includes a curfew, the closure of playgrounds and strict limits on exercise.

"We still have too many cases in the community for too long for us to be able to open up and give back... those freedoms that we cherish and those freedoms that we desperately want back," Andrews said.

Andrews did not reveal how long stay-at-home orders would remain in place, saying officials would "look at all the different options".

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COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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Meanwhile neighbouring New South Wales state, which includes Australia's most populous city of Sydney, posted 1,218 new cases on Sunday -- pushing the country's overall daily caseload to a fresh all-time high.

Almost 19,000 cases have been detected in the state of about eight million people since the Delta variant outbreak began in mid-June.

But with vaccination rates now surging in New South Wales and authorities predicting 70 percent of adults there will be fully vaccinated by October, residents weary of prolonged restrictions have been promised some modest freedoms.

In non-hotspot areas, five fully vaccinated adults will be able to gather outside for up to an hour from mid-September while authorities have also signalled small weddings will soon be allowed.

Australian leaders have agreed on a national roadmap for reopening the country once vaccination targets of 70 and 80 percent are reached in each state and territory.

The nation has recorded more than 51,000 cases of Covid-19 and almost 1,000 deaths in a population of 25 million since the start of the pandemic.

Follow our full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic here.
AFP
first published: Aug 29, 2021 09:55 am
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