Coronavirus: What’s happening in Canada and around the world on Sunday

The latest:

  • Liberals considering whether to extend expiring pandemic supports for businesses, individuals.
  • Canadians will still need to take a COVID-19 test to return via land border, says Blair.

Melbourne, which has spent more time under COVID-19 lockdowns than any other city in the world, is set to lift its stay-at-home orders this week, officials said on Sunday.

By Friday, when some curbs will be lifted, the Australian city of five million people will have been under six lockdowns totalling 262 days, or nearly nine months, since March 2020.

Australian and other media say this is the longest in the world, exceeding a 234-day lockdown in Buenos Aires.

While coronavirus cases keep rising in Victoria state, of which Melbourne is the capital, the state’s double-vaccination rate is set to reach 70 per cent this week, allowing for the ease in restrictions.

People cross a street in Melbourne amid a lockdown on Sept. 30. (Daniel Pockett/AAP Image/The Associated Press)

“Today is a great day,” Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said as he announced the end of the lockdowns. “Today is a day when Victorians can be proud of what they have achieved.”

When hospitality venues and some businesses reopen, their capacity will remain heavily restricted. More easing, including the reopening of many retailers, will come once 80 per cent of eligible Victorians are fully vaccinated — estimated by Nov. 5 at the latest.

On Sunday, Victoria recorded 1,838 new coronavirus cases and seven deaths. Neighbouring New South Wales, which emerged last week from a 100-day lockdown, reported 301 cases and 10 deaths. Eighty per cent of the state’s people have been fully vaccinated.

Australia, once a champion of a COVID-zero strategy of managing the pandemic, has been moving toward living with the virus through extensive vaccinations, as the delta variant has proven too transmissible to suppress.

The new strategy makes lockdowns highly unlikely once 80 per cent of the population is fully vaccinated. As of the weekend, about 68 per cent of eligible Australians have been fully inoculated.

PHOTOS | Hundreds arrested during Aug. 21 anti-lockdown protest in Australia: 

Australia’s health officials said on Sunday that quarantine-free travel from New Zealand’s South Island, where there is no outbreak, will resume on Wednesday. The government is also in discussions with Singapore about reopening travel between the two countries for the fully vaccinated.

Despite the rise in cases in recent months, Australia’s coronavirus numbers are low compared with many other developed countries, with just over 143,000 cases and 1,530 deaths.

Neighbouring New Zealand, which is also learning to live with COVID-19 by accelerating inoculations, reported 51 new cases on Sunday, 47 of them in the largest city Auckland, which has been in a lockdown since mid-August. On Saturday, New Zealand vaccinated more than 2.5 per cent of its people as part of a government-led mass vaccination drive.

PHOTOS  | New Zealand administers record jabs at ‘Vaxathon’:

What’s happening in Canada

  • Ont. needs to better track vaccines tied to breakthrough cases, expert says.
  • N.B. sees 3 more deaths; rapid testing program to roll out provincewide on Monday.
  • Staff, students exposed to case at N.W.T. elementary school, says principal.
  • 2nd person linked to a class at Whitehorse Elementary School has tested positive.

What’s happening around the world

As of Sunday, more than 240.4 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus tracker. The reported global death toll stood at more than 4.8 million.

In Africa, Zimbabwe will bar unvaccinated government workers from reporting for duty beginning Monday. Those barred from work will not get paid.

A government worker shows their COVID-19 vaccination card in Harare, Zimbabwe, on Sept, 19. (Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/The Associated Press)

In Europe, Russia is reporting 34,303 new infections — its largest daily number — as the country faces a sustained rise in cases. It also recorded 999 deaths, barely lower than the record 1,002 deaths reported on Saturday.

In Asia, Sri Lankan authorities are allowing the reopening of cinemas and restaurants and also permitting wedding receptions as a part of the easing of restrictions.

In the Americas, Dr. Anthony Fauci — the leading infectious disease doctor in the U.S. — says it’s “really unfortunate” that Gov. Greg Abbott has moved to ban vaccine mandates in the state of Texas, adding the decision will damage public health.

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