Australia purchases 1mn Moderna doses as its 3d most populous state narrowly avoids lockdown

Australia’s Queensland has narrowly escaped a snap lockdown, like the ones in effect in Melbourne and Sydney, by reporting no new Covid cases, as the government stocks up on Moderna vaccines in the hopes of reviving the economy.

Residents of the country’s third most populous state heaved a sigh of relief on Sunday after it reported zero new Covid-19 infections in 24 hours. The threat of a lockdown continues to loom large over Queensland after a cluster of five cases was reported, all stemming from one family.

Queensland Deputy Premier Steven Miles welcomed the news but urged residents to stay vigilant. “We’re not out of the woods yet, though,” he said.

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FILE PHOTO. A Covid-19 drive-through testing clinic in eastern Brisbane. ©Patrick HAMILTON / AFP
Lockdown looms over Australia’s Queensland after five local Covid-19 infections

Speaking on Saturday, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk warned if the authorities “start seeing any seeding,” the state would likely have to be ushered into a snap lockdown, repeating the fate of parts of New South Wales, including Sydney, Melbourne, in Victoria, and the capital Canberra in the Australian Capital Territory.

In accordance with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s plan, at least 70% of the population aged 16 and over needs to be fully vaccinated before the country might do away with sweeping lockdowns. “High-targeted” lockdowns would still remain an option under the scheme, and the borders would only be gradually reopened once the vaccination rate climbs to 80%. The country’s harsh restrictions have courted growing criticism while putting the economy on the brink of a recession.

In an apparent bid to reach these milestones, Australia announced it had procured another batch of Moderna Covid-19 vaccines from Europe. One million doses are set to arrive next week and will be distributed across the country starting September 20. 

Morrison said the doses were secured from “the European Union states,” while encouraging residents aged 12 to 59 to go to pharmacies to get what he described as “a family jab.” He did not reveal the nations that provided the extra doses.

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As of last week, some 64.6% of Australians over the age of 16 have received at least one vaccine dose. However, a mere 39.7 % of those eligible are double-jabbed.

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