MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Australians were celebrating Easter Sunday in a relatively unfettered way, as the country reported no new locally acquired coronavirus cases.
Queensland, the epicenter of a recent small community outbreak of COVID-19, has only had one infection in the past three days. The state has the strictest restrictions on public gatherings.
Elsewhere, Australians flocked to the beaches, taking advantage of the warm weather in many parts of the country, or reunited with families, in stark contrast to Easter last year, when a nationwide shutdown kept people confined in their homes.
While many countries have imposed new closures or reduced services for the main Christian holiday trying to prevent the third wave of coronavirus from spreading further, Australia’s churches were open with many attending services over the four-day weekend. .
Christianity is the dominant religion in Australia, with 12 million people and 86% of religious Australians, identifying as Christian, according to the 2016 census.
Australia has been one of the most successful countries in the world in curbing the pandemic, with rapid closures, border closures and rapid monitoring limiting coronavirus infections to just over 29,300 infections, with 909 deaths from COVID-19.
Yet the country has had far less with its inoculation campaign, which missed the March target by about 3.3 million doses as states and the federal government argued over blame.
Health Minister Greg Hunt said on Sunday the country is on track to administer a first dose of the vaccine to all Australians who want it by October.
“As supply has increased with sovereign vaccine manufacturing, so has the launch,” he said.
CSL Ltd. began production of 50 million doses of the Oxford University / AstraZeneca vaccine in March in Melbourne, and the majority of Australians are expected to receive that injection.
Reporting by Lidia Kelly; Edited by William Mallard