Brisbane extends lockdown amid growing Covid-19 outbreak

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People walk along a beach in Tuncurry, Australia.

A lockdown of Australia’s third-largest city, Brisbane, has been extended until Sunday amid a growing Covid-19 outbreak.

Brisbane and several surrounding municipalities in Queensland state were due to end a three-day lockdown on Tuesday.

The Queensland government announced the extension on Monday after 13 locally acquired infections of the highly contagious Delta variant were detected in the latest 24-hour period.

Australia’s largest city, Sydney, and surrounding cities in New South Wales state are in their sixth week of lockdown. The New South Wales government reported 207 new locally acquired infections on Monday

Meanwhile, defence minister Peter Dutton said he is quarantining at home in Brisbane and would attend Parliament remotely.

He said he has tested negative for Covid-19, but must quarantine because of a virus cluster at his sons’ school.

Mr Dutton was infected with the coronavirus in March 2020 during a trip to Washington, DC. He has since been fully vaccinated.

Australian MPs who attend parliament in person face daily saliva tests for Covid-19, and must wear masks and practise social distancing.

Meanwhile, New Zealand’s government plans to slightly ease its strict coronavirus border controls to allow migrant workers from the Pacific to harvest crops and wine grapes.

Jacinda Ardern

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said her administration plans to allow some workers from Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu to enter without them going through the usual requirement to spend two weeks in quarantine.

Ms Ardern said details of the plan are still being worked through and she cannot yet say how many workers might be eligible.

She added that the number of such workers currently in New Zealand was about 3,000 short of the 10,000 typically needed for the harvest.

There are no current outbreaks in Samoa, Tonga or Vanuatu, which have reported a total of just seven Covid-19 cases since the pandemic began.

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