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Melbourne cases hit record despite two months of lockdown

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Authorities in Victoria, home to Melbourne, estimated nearly a third of Thursday’s 1,438 new infections could be traced back to home parties last weekend to watch the Australian Rules Football Grand Final on television.

“Many of these cases were completely avoidable … I’m not trying to blame anyone, I’m simply trying to explain because a lot of people will be scratching their heads – how could it have gone up by so much, so fast,” state Premier Daniel Andrews said during a media briefing.

Officials admitted Thursday’s numbers, a 50% jump to Wednesday’s 950 cases, is a “major setback” in managing the flare-up, as they race to vaccinate the state’s 5.5 million adult population.

Half of the state’s population above 16 have received their first dose, below the national average of 53%, as officials halved the intervals between Pfizer (PFE.N) shots in state-run vaccine hubs to three weeks after supplies rose.

Australia’s largest cities, Sydney and Melbourne, and the capital Canberra are in a weeks-long lockdown to combat a third wave of infections fuelled by the fast-moving Delta variant. Authorities have ditched a COVID-zero strategy and are looking at higher vaccination as their exit strategy from lockdowns.

A total of 941 new cases were reported in New South Wales on Thursday, the majority in state capital Sydney, while Queensland recorded six and the Australian Capital Territory 31 infections. (Reuters)

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