Victoria to end lockdown, New South Wales expected to extend it

CANBERRA/SYDNEY : Australia's Victoria state said yesterday it will end lockdown after curtailing the spread of Covid-19, but neighbouring New South Wales faced a four-week extension of restrictions according to media reports after new cases hit a 16-month peak.

More than half of Australia's near 26 million population have been in lockdown in recent weeks after an outbreak of the highly infectious Delta variant took hold in the New South Wales capital of Sydney and spread to three states.

The state reported 172 cases in the past 24 hours, up from 145 a day earlier, with at least 60 spending time in the community while infectious.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said a decision whether to lift the five-week lockdown will be taken this week, and local media later reported the state would announce a four-week extension of the order today.

With less than 13 per cent of the state's population fully vaccinated, curbs are expected to stay.

"We know we have put in the hard yards for five weeks and we don't want to waste all the good work that we've done by opening too early and then having the virus spread again," Ms Berejiklian told a media conference.

In contrast, Victoria said most restrictions imposed on July 15 will be removed from today after recording just 10 infections of people already in quarantine.

Victoria's five million residents will be allowed to leave home freely and schools will reopen, though households will not be permitted to have visitors.- REUTERS