A medical worker swabs at the Bondi Beach drive-through coronavirus disease testing centre in Sydney. File/Reuters
Gulf Today Report
Australia is on track for a 10th day of no new local COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, allowing its most populous state of New South Wales (NSW) to relax coronavirus restrictions after controlling a fast-spreading cluster.
New South Wales has recorded no local cases for 10 days after low single digit numbers earlier in January. Victoria state, which is hosting the Australia Open tennis tournament, has gone three weeks without a local case, according to Reuters.
This photo shows people in hazardous material overalls due to the coronavirus outbreak in Melbourne. File/Reuters
Australia has recorded more than 22,000 local cases since the pandemic began and 909 deaths.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt tweeted on Wednesday marked the 10th day of no community transmission of COVID-19 Australia wide, adding the country’s success comes at a time when global coronavirus cases have crossed 100 million with the death toll surpassing 2 million.
The COVID-free run allowed NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklien to ease coronavirus restrictions from Friday, including relaxing rules around mask wearing and increasing numbers in house parties, weddings, funerals and places of worship.
The restrictions had kicked in late last year to successfully curb virus clusters in Sydney’s northern beaches and western suburbs. The outbreaks saw other states and territories close borders or restrict travel from NSW.
Berejiklien hinted that restrictions would be eased further in two weeks if there were no further cases, adding she was “striking the right balance” between economic growth and virus control.
“They both go hand in hand, you can’t have an open economy unless you make sure you get the health settings right,” she said, while urging Sydneysiders to come out and get tested for COVID-19 even for the “mildest of symptoms.”
Despite its relative success in handling the pandemic, Australia’s international borders will likely remain shut to non-citizens this year although there may be exclusive travel arrangements called “bubbles” with its South Pacific neighbours.
Australia suspended a one-way “travel bubble” which allowed New Zealanders entry after a highly infectious coronavirus strain was found in New Zealand.
New Zealand on Wednesday reported two more cases of the South African variant, both returned travellers in hotel quarantine who had previously returned negative test following their 14-day isolation. New Zealand has reported zero community transmission cases in the past three days.
Australia would make a decision on whether or not to lift the ‘trans-Tasman bubble’ suspension on Thursday.
More than 22,500 test results were conducted in the past 24 hours in Australia’s second most populous city Melbourne and authorities urged residents to get tested amid fears of community transmission from a worker at the Holiday Inn in the city.
Australia's biggest city is now in its seventh week of lockdown as the cluster hit 5,805 cases with 32 deaths to date. New South Wales state announced 356 new cases, a fresh record for a Delta-variant outbreak that began in mid-June.
India has 11.8 million COVID-19 cases, the third-highest amount behind the United States and Brazil.
Sheikh Mohammed on Wednesday met a number of high-ranking military and police officials from the UAE and other nations, who attended the graduation ceremony of the 47th cohort of graduates of the Zayed II Military College.
Dubai Police and Civil Defence officials evacuated the building in recording time.
The two leaders also discussed bilateral cooperation across various domains, affirming their joint keenness for continuous consultation to benefit the mutual interests of their countries and peoples.