Melbourne eases lockdown as cases decline

MELBOURNE (AP) — Australia’s second-largest city, Melbourne, has loosened lockdown restrictions as new and active COVID-19 cases continue to decline.

From midnight yesterday, Melbourne residents will no longer face limits on the time they can spend away from their homes for education or recreation. Previous restrictions allowing Melburnians to travel only five kilometres from home will increase at midnight to 25 kilometres.

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

Victoria state reported only two new cases of COVID-19 yesterday 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 Victoria state yesterday with 12 people receiving hospital treatment, none in intensive care.

Regulations will be further loosened on November 2 with the partial re-opening of shops and restaurants.

A family enjoys a walk in Melbourne as the state government announces a lifting of some restrictions as the city battles a second wave of COVID-19. PHOTO: AFP

India has added 61,871 new confirmed cases in the past 24 hours, raising its total to about 7.5 million. The Health Ministry yesterday also registered 1,033 new fatalities, taking the death toll to 114,031.

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 said 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 about the potential for the virus to spread during the religious festival season beginning later this month.

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

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked officials to prepare cold storage chains and 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.