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Virus lockdown extended for Australia’s capital

/ 01:33 PM September 14, 2021
canberra

A tourist wearing a face mask walks with others as she enters the foyer of Parliament House in Canberra on March 22, 2020. AFP FILE PHOTO

SYDNEY — Australian authorities on Tuesday extended a coronavirus lockdown of the nation’s capital Canberra to mid-October, saying the measure was necessary while vaccinations are ramped up.

About 400,000 Canberra residents have been under stay-at-home orders since August 12, when a single case of Covid-19 was detected.

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Now at just over 250 active cases, the cluster caused by the highly infectious Delta variant remains small but has been treated with caution in a city that had largely avoided outbreaks.

Australian Capital Territory chief minister Andrew Barr said authorities wanted to limit transmission while ensuring Canberra becomes “highly vaccinated”.

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“This is the safest path forward and it will lead to a safer Christmas, a safer summer holiday period and a safer 2022,” he told reporters.

Australia’s vaccine rollout has picked up pace in recent months as millions of people under lockdown in the highly populated southeast — including Sydney and Melbourne — sought out the jab.

Almost 53 percent of over-16s in the region have received both doses, the highest rate of full vaccination in Australia, which is grappling with multiple Delta outbreaks.

State and federal leaders have agreed on a national roadmap for reopening, which could see travel and border restrictions largely lifted when double-dose vaccination rates hit 70 and 80 percent.

Australia has recorded more than 75,000 cases and over 1,100 deaths since the pandemic began.

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TAGS: Australia, Canberra, COVID-19, Delta variant, Health, lockdown
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