Melbourne now holds the unenviable record of being the most locked-down city in the world, as it passes 245 cumulative days in lockdown. The Victorian capital passed Buenos Aires last night as the city with the most days in lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Despite its very long lockdown, Argentina was much harder hit by Covid-19, with the country recording more than 5 million cases and 115,000 deaths. In the Philippines, which has had various levels of lockdown orders for more than 500 days, more than 2.5 million people have become ill, and more than 38,000 have died. In Australia, by contrast, 111,000 people have become ill with the virus, and 1,334 people have died, as of October 4. Argentina's population is just under twice that of Australia, and the Philippines has a population four times as large.
"We have unfortunately faced several incursions into Victoria that we had to deal with," said Victorian chief health officer Brett Sutton. He pointed to Australia's slow vaccine rollout and said lockdowns had been the state's only option for dealing with the virus. "We had to have a lockdown to manage to avoid catastrophic numbers and catastrophic numbers of deaths."
For Melbourne, there is light at the end of the very long tunnel, with lockdown expected to end once 70 per cent of Victorians 16 and over are fully vaccinated. Once that milestone is hit, which is expected on or around October 26, people will be able to leave their homes for any reason, at any time. Ten fully vaccinated people will be able to gather outdoors, and pubs, clubs and entertainment venues can open for 50 vaccinated patrons outdoors.
As of today, 82 per cent of Victorians have had a single dose of vaccine, with more than 52 per cent fully vaccinated. There are thousands of vaccination appointments available right now, with the state government calling on all Victorians over the age of 12 to make an appointment as soon as possible.