Melbourne eases lockdown as virus cases decline

The state of Victoria reported only two new cases of Covid-19 on Sunday and no deaths.

Volunteers offer hand sanitiser to devotees arriving at a temple in Jammu, India (Channi Anand/AP)

By Associated Press Reporters

Australia’s second-largest city, Melbourne, has loosened lockdown restrictions as new and active cases of Covid-19 continue to decline.

From midnight on Sunday, Melbourne residents will no longer face limits on the time they can spend away from their homes for education or recreation. Previous restrictions allowing them to travel only three miles (5km) from home will increase at midnight to 15 miles (25km).

Outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people from two households will be allowed and golf and tennis can resume.

The state of Victoria reported only two new cases of Covid-19 on Sunday and no deaths. The rolling 14-day average of cases dropped to eight, the lowest in four months.

There were only 137 active cases across the state on Sunday, with 12 people receiving hospital treatment, none of them in intensive care.

Regulations will be further loosened on November 2 with the partial reopening of shops, bars and restaurants.

(PA Graphics)

Meanwhile, Thailand has closed all border crossings between its northern province of Tak and Myanmar after five people in the Thai border town of Mae Sot tested positive for coronavirus.

The five, none of whom exhibited symptoms, are the first locally transmitted cases confirmed in Thailand since early September, when a prison inmate tested positive. All five are members of a family of Myanmar nationals residing in Thailand.

Two were initially confirmed to be affected and added to Saturday’s total of Thai cases, while three were officially added on Sunday.

Along with cases found among people quarantined after arriving from abroad, seven additions on Sunday took Thailand’s total number of cases to 3,686, including 59 deaths.

India has added 61,871 new confirmed cases in the past 24 hours, raising its total to about 7.5 million.

The Health Ministry on Sunday also registered 1,033 new fatalities, taking the death toll to 114,031.

Health officials in India have warned about the potential for coronavirus to spread during the forthcoming religious festival season (Channi Anand/AP)

The country is continuing a downward trend in new cases, but virus-related fatalities jumped after recording the lowest daily figure of 680 in nearly three months on Friday.

Some experts say India’s numbers may not be reliable because of poor reporting and inadequate health infrastructure.

India is also relying heavily on antigen tests, which are faster but less accurate than traditional RT-PCR tests.

Health officials have warned of the potential for the virus to spread during the religious festival season which begins later this month.

New Delhi is also bracing for high air pollution levels, making the coronavirus fight more complicated in the coming months.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked officials to prepare cold storage chains and a distribution network for vaccine delivery along the lines of conducting elections, involving all levels of government and citizen groups.

According to Indian officials, three vaccines are in advanced stages of development.

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