Melbourne extends lockdown with tougher restrictions as COVID cases rise in Australia

Published : August 17, 2021 19:49 IST

Melbourne will have a night curfew till September 2. Photo: Con Chronis/AFP

Melbourne is implementing a night curfew, restrictions on movement and will close down parks and playgrounds. Sydney recorded its highest death toll of seven in the last 24 hours.

The Australian city of Melbourne extended its lockdown for two weeks on August 16, with tougher restrictions in place. Under the new guidelines, an overnight curfew takes effect from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m..

Playgrounds and parks will be closed, and people will not be allowed to remove their masks in public for consumption of alcohol. Permits will be required for authorized work, and large construction projects will be restricted to 25 per cent of their workforce.

"We are at a tipping point. There is simply no option today but to further strengthen this lockdown," said Victorian state premier Daniel Andrews.

Here is a roundup of other coronavirus news from around the world:

Oceania

Elsewhere in Australia, the city of Sydney is also struggling to control an outbreak of the delta variant. The city recorded seven deaths in the last 24 hours, and the state of New South Wales saw 478 new cases on the same day.

"Our community transmission numbers are disturbingly high. Every death is a person who has loved ones, who has died in tragic circumstances and our heartfelt condolences to all of those loved ones and families," said state premier Gladys Berejiklian.

Asia

Japan is set to extend its "state of emergency" soft lockdown, in regions such as Tokyo, to the middle of September, as well as adding several other parts of the country, according to media reports. The current state of emergency is due to expire at the end of the month, but a continuing rise in COVID-19 infections has sparked calls to extend it.

On Monday, the Tokyo Paralympics, due to start on August 24, is set to decide on issues such as what to do in terms of spectators, NHK public television reported. President Joko Widodo said on August 16 in his annual state of the nation speech that Indonesia must "strike a balance" between health and economic interests as infections surge.

"The pandemic has indeed significantly slowed down our economic growth, but it must not hinder the process of structural reforms of our economy," the President said. Struggling with rising infections driven by the delta variant, Indonesia has become Asia's epicenter for COVID-19, with hospitals becoming overwhelmed.

New local COVID-19 infections in China fell for a sixth straight day, official data showed on August 16. In its lowest daily tally since July 24, China reported 13 new domestically transmitted infections for Sunday, according to data from the National Health Commission.

In Thailand hundreds of protesters demanding the resignation of the country’s Prime Minister had to be dispersed with teargas and water cannon. Crowds vented their anger over the handling of the pandemic and vaccine rollout.

Opposition lawmakers also filed a motion of no-confidence against Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and five of his ministers.

On August 15, Iran recorded 620 deaths, its highest toll ever, with 36,736 new cases. Officials said the country was experiencing its fifth wave, with infections being driven by the delta variant. Non-essential businesses will be closed from Monday until August 28, and a travel ban between provinces has been put in place till August 27. Authorities have stopped short of a full lockdown, and are ramping up the vaccination process.

The Philippines reported its first case of the so-called lambda variant, in a 35-year-old female who has recovered. Health authorities said they were trying to determine whether she was a Filipino national who had traveled from abroad.

The capital region of Manila is under strict lockdown until August 20.

Middle East

Israel's Prime Minister Naftali Bennett urged citizens to get vaccinated and comply with restrictions. He said a lockdown would be a "last resort." "We will do everything to avoid framers, which are destructive tools for our livelihood, economy and children's education. If we continue the quarantine policy and the destructive limitations for the economy, we will just go financially broke," he said.

Europe

Germany's Robert Koch Institute on Monday reported a further 2,126 cases and four deaths. The incidence rate continued to rise, albeit only slightly, to 36.2 cases per 100,000 people per week.

Meanwhile, Germany's Health Minister Jens Spahn has welcomed the news that the country's vaccine commission (STIKO) has approved COVID vaccinations for all individuals over the age of 12. "Parents and adolescents thus have a clear recommendation to opt for the vaccination," Spahn said.

German biotech firm Curevac and British pharmaceutical GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) reported that their COVID-19 vaccine candidate showed improved immune response and protection in a preclinical animal study. The mRNA vaccine showed better results that CureVac’s first vaccine, which only had 48 per cent efficacy.

CureVac in partnership with GSK are trying to develop a vaccine that works against coronavirus variants. COVID-19 vaccines do not raise the risk of miscarriage according the United Kingdom health regulator.

There was also no correlation between the shots and changes to menstruation. In a statement the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said: "There is no pattern from the reports to suggest that any of the COVID-19 vaccines used in the UK, or any reactions to these vaccines, increase the risk of miscarriage or stillbirth."

The findings are in line with a similar review from Europe earlier this month, in which no causal link could be established between COVID-19 vaccines and menstrual disorders.

kb,tg, jsi/msh (dpa, AP, Reuters)

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