In Sydney, Australia, more than 5 million residents today celebrate the first day without lockdown, imposed 106 days ago to contain the infection curve and the transmission of the Delta variant. The end of most of the restrictions affects residents who have already completed the vaccination cycle, who, in addition to sharing meals in the reopened bars and restaurants, will be able to attend gyms, libraries and swimming pools. Non-essential businesses had been closed since last June, marking unprecedented restrictions on the personal freedom of Australians.
So, yesterday evening, thousands of people flocked to pubs and shops, which opened their doors at one minute past midnight. Long queues outside the clubs during the night, as many this morning in the beauty salons and barbers. Many citizens, on the other hand, took the opportunity to visit relatives and friends, after almost four months of restrictions that prohibited meetings between family members and travel beyond 5 kilometers from their residence.
With the number of new infections dropping, just 496 Monday in the state of New South Wales, and over 70% of those over 16 fully vaccinated, the city is slowly returning to normal. The next goal is to bring the population with a full vaccination cycle to 80%, in order to implement a further relaxation of the restrictions. It is not expected to take long: currently, over 90% of the inhabitants have received at least one dose.
For most of the pandemic, Australia has waged an effective fight against Covid through border closures, restrictions and mass tracing. Now the country gradually abandons the imposed measures, on the one hand due to a decline in infections, on the other for internal needs. In fact, Australia’s international borders are reopening temporarily to encourage the entry of 2,000 qualified foreign doctors and nurses, necessary to overcome the serious crisis of health personnel, stronger in the hospitals of the regional areas. These will arrive in the next six months and will be mainly assigned to suburban hospitals and doctors’ offices. Despite the improvement in the pandemic situation, the hospitals in Sydney and Melbourne are close to maximum capacity, calling for staff reinforcements. Priority will go, as explained by the Minister of Health, Greg Hunt, to doctors and nurses who had already applied for immigration, who will then be able to avoid travel restrictions and start working immediately upon arrival. Most of the contingent will likely come from England, Ireland and other countries where the professional qualifications of doctors and nurses are recognized as equivalent by regulatory bodies. According to figures from the nurses union, up to 21% of the newly registered staff in the country’s hospital services consist of immigrants.
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