Australia reports fall in new Covid-19 infections as vaccinations rise

SYDNEY : Daily Covid-19 cases in Australia's Victoria and New South Wales states, the epicentres of the country's worst virus outbreak, fell yesterday as the authorities look to start easing tough restrictions, with a rise in vaccination rates.

A total of 1,420 new locally acquired cases were reported in Victoria, most of them in the state capital Melbourne, down from a record 1,763 on Tuesday. Eleven new deaths were registered, the state's highest daily number in the current outbreak.

Melbourne has been in lockdown since Aug 5 as Australia grapples with a third wave of infections fuelled by the fast-moving Delta variant that has also put millions in Sydney, its largest city, and the national capital Canberra, under strict stay-home rules. Most other states have few or no cases.

Victoria plans to relax some restrictions once 70 per cent of the adult population is fully vaccinated. This is expected in late October. More curbs will be eased at 80 per cent.

In neighbouring New South Wales, Sydney is due to exit its lockdown next Monday, after a rapid vaccination programme. More than 68 per cent of the adult population has been fully vaccinated in the state.

Daily infections fell below 600 for the first time in more than seven weeks yesterday.

Meanwhile, Australian medical tech manufacturer Ellume said it had recalled almost 200,000 at-home Covid-19 tests in the United States over an increased chance of false positives.

Ellume's rapid at-home coronavirus test last year became the first to receive emergency use authorisation in the US.

The US Food and Drug Administration issued an alert on Tuesday over the "potential for false positive results with certain lots of the Ellume Covid-19 Home Test, due to a recently identified manufacturing issue".

"Negative results do not appear to be affected by the manufacturing issue," the statement said. - REUTERS, AFP