Australia’s Covid caseload tops 70K mark

Australia’s overall Covid-19 caseload has topped the 70,000 mark after more than 200 new infections were reported on Saturday.

On Saturday morning, there were 2,069 locally acquired cases reported across the country, taking the total number of confirmed infections since the start of the pandemic to 71,972, reports Xinhua news agency.

The nationwide Covid death toll stood at 1,084.

Of the new cases, 1,599 were from New South Wales (NSW), Australia’s most populous state and the current epicentre of the pandemic, where the health department also recorded eight deaths.

“There have been 170 Covid-19 related deaths in NSW since June 16, 2021,” said the statement from NSW Health.

Victoria, the second-most populous state, reported a further 450 new local cases.

The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) reported 15 new cases on Saturday, the 30th day of a lockdown that is due to end on September 17, taking the number of active cases in the nation’s capital to 249.

As of Friday, about 66 per cent of Australians aged 16 and over had received at least one vaccine dose and 41 percent were fully inoculated, according to the Department of Health.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison recently reiterated that it was time for Australia to “live with the virus”, calling for fellow state premiers and territory chief ministers to “hold your nerve” and ease restrictions when vaccination targets are met.

Leaders in July signed off on Morrison’s plan to ease coronavirus restrictions when 70 per cent to 80 per cent of adults are fully vaccinated.

On Saturday, the federal government announced A$5 million in funding to find a new Covid antibody treatment that could stop the disease from progressing.

Australia has already approved the use of two Covid-19 treatments, Remdesivir and Sotrovimab, which are currently being used to treat patients across the country, according to Health Minister Greg Hunt.