Melbourne prepares to exit world’s longest Covid lockdown – latest updates

Covid-19 has infected more than 242M people and killed over 4.9M globally. Here are the virus-related developments for October 21:

People enjoy their drinks in Sydney on October 11, 2021, as the city ended lockdown after 106 days.
People enjoy their drinks in Sydney on October 11, 2021, as the city ended lockdown after 106 days.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Melbourne readies to exit world’s longest Covid-19 lockdowns

Millions in Melbourne are readying to come out of the world’s longest Covid-19 lockdown after Victoria state hit a key vaccination target, with pubs, restaurants, and cafes racing to reopen their doors to fully vaccinated customers.

Melbourne’s residents have been enduring their sixth pandemic lockdown since early August to quell an outbreak fuelled by the Delta strain. 

Authorities ramped up the state’s immunisation drive before easing curbs, even as daily cases continue to hover near record levels.

By Friday, the city of five million would have spent a cumulative 262 days, or nearly nine months, under stay-home orders since March 2020 – the world’s longest, exceeding a 234-day lockdown in Buenos Aires, according to Australian media.

US clears Moderna, J&J boosters, backs use of different vaccine for boost

The US Food and Drug Administration has authorised booster doses of the Covid-19 vaccines from Moderna Inc and Johnson & Johnson, and said Americans can choose a different shot from their original inoculation as a booster.

That means all three vaccines authorised in the United States can also be given as boosters to some groups.

“The availability of these boosters is important for continued protection against Covid-19 disease,” acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock said in a statement. She noted that data suggests vaccine effectiveness may wane over time in some fully vaccinated people.

The decision paves the way for millions in the United States to get additional protection as the highly contagious Delta variant of the virus causes breakthrough infections among some who are fully vaccinated.

The agency previously authorized boosters of the Pfizer Inc vaccine developed with German partner BioNTech SE at least six months after the first round of shots to increase protection for people aged 65 and older, those at risk of severe disease, and those who are exposed to the virus through their work.

Argentina drops masks for first time since pandemic

For the first time since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, citizens of Buenos Aires have enjoyed the lifting of the mandatory use of face masks in open places.

Masks will also not be compulsory during open-air activities in schools, although children will be required to wear them inside classrooms and on public transport.

The government of President Alberto Fernandez had allowed people to stop wearing the mask in open spaces nationwide from 1 October, but it was up to individual cities to implement the measure.

Capital city authorities waited until 70 percent of its population was fully vaccinated to roll back the use of masks.

Music fans spend more time listening to tunes during pandemic – study

Music fans globally are spending more time listening to tunes, about 18.4 hours a week on average, and have turned to their favourite artists for comfort during the pandemic, according to a survey.

IFPI, the recorded music industry’s representative body, said the figure, which equates to listening to 368 three-minute songs, is up from 18 hours in 2019, with listeners mostly turning to subscription audio streaming, video streaming, the radio and short-form video apps like TikTok.

The “Engaging with Music 2021” study, described by IFPI as the largest of its kind, is based on the views of 43,000 music fans in 21 countries.

“The research finds that not only are fans listening to more music, but that they are also seizing opportunities to engage with new, dynamic, and immersive music experiences,” IFPI Chief Executive Frances Moore said in the report.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies

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