MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Australians celebrate Easter Sunday in a relatively unlimited manner as the country reports no locally acquired cases of the novel coronavirus.
Queensland, the epicenter of a recent small COVID-19 community outbreak, has had only one infection in the past three days. States have the strictest restrictions on public gatherings.
Elsewhere, Australians are flocking to beaches, taking advantage of the warm weather in many parts of the country, or hanging out with family, in stark contrast to last year’s Easter when a nationwide lockdown left people confined to their homes.
While many countries have imposed new lockdowns or restricted services for major Christian holidays trying to keep a third wave from spreading the coronavirus, Australian churches remain open and many attend services over the four-day weekend.
Christianity is the dominant religion in Australia, with 12 million people, and 86% Australian, identifying as Christian, according to the 2016 census.
Australia has become one of the world’s most successful countries in tackling the pandemic, with rapid lockdowns, border closings and rapid tracking limiting coronavirus infections to more than 29,300 infections, with 909 COVID-19 deaths.
However, the state has far less, with its inoculation boost, missing its March target of about 3.3 million doses as the state and federal government wrangle over the mistake.
Health Minister Greg Hunt said on Sunday the country was on track to deliver the first dose of the vaccine to all Australians who want it by October.
“As supply increases with the manufacture of sovereign vaccines, so does the launch,” he said.
CSL Ltd. began producing 50 million doses of the University of Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine in March in Melbourne, with most Australians expected to receive the injection.
Reporting by Lidia Kelly; Edited by William Mallard