Australia relaxes restrictions after 10 days without local Covid-19 cases

Sydney, Australia, Jan 27 (efe-epa).- Australian authorities announced on Wednesday the relaxation of social restrictions imposed in the state of New South Wales due to a Covid-19 outbreak in Sydney, after recording 10 days without local infections of the virus throughout the country.

“Advice just received of a 10th consecutive day of zero cases of community transmission Australia wide. At the same time sadly the world has passed 100 m confirmed Covid cases & almost 17,000 lives have been lost in the last 24 hours. Thanks to all who are helping keep us safe,” Health Minister Greg Hunt said in a tweet.

NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian said that starting Friday, outdoor gatherings of up to 50 people and household gatherings of up to 30 will be allowed, while masks will no longer be compulsory at retail venues, among other measures.

However, the use of face masks will continue to be mandatory on public transport and other spaces where it is difficult to maintain social distancing “to protect those most vulnerable… in those indoor settings you have the highest risk,” Berejiklian told reporters in Sydney.

The measures come after a Sydney outbreak detected in mid-December forced some 250,000 people from the Northern Beaches area into confinement for more than three weeks.

Australia’s other jurisdictions have recorded no local Covid-19 infections for longer. Victoria, the second most populous state and the epicenter of the second national wave of the pandemic, has been free of community cases for 21 days.

Likewise, the state of Queensland, the third most populous in the country, reported this month a case of a highly contagious strain of Covid-19, for which 2.3 million inhabitants of the city of Brisbane were confined for three days, a measure that has managed to contain its spread for more than two weeks.

Other states such as Tasmania and Western Australia have been recording very few cases for months, mostly in people coming outside their jurisdiction, so residents live as normal.

Australia, which keeps its international borders closed and temporarily suspended quarantine-free travel from New Zealand on Monday due to a community case of the South African variant, has accumulated some 28,800 Covid-19 infections since the start of the pandemic, including 909 deaths and more than 115 active cases.

Most of the infections in Australia, which will begin vaccinating its population at the end of February, were due to the outbreak in Melbourne allegedly because of failures in the quarantine hotels for international arrivals that forced the lockdown of some 5 million people between July and November. EFE


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