September 1, 2021 | By Bronwen Largier

The lockdown of Australia’s capital has been extended until midnight on Friday September 17, due to new cases continuing to be in the community while infectious.

Yesterday just four of the ACT’s 13 new cases were in isolation during their entire infectious period.

However, from tomorrow some restrictions will be eased slightly, with more people allowed to gather outside and a rise in numbers allowed to attend weddings and funerals.

The lockdown of the ACT has been in place since August 12 after one case was detected in the community. There have since been 274 cases, of which 32 have recovered.

Meanwhile Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced yesterday that Australia had done a vaccine swap deal with Singapore to acquire half a million Pfizer doses from the South East Asian nation that are due to expire. The doses will arrive in Australia this week and be included in the national vaccine rollout from next week, distributed evenly across the country on a per capita basis.

Australia will return the half million doses to Singapore later in the year, once supply here increases – in October and November Australia is scheduled to receive 18 million Pfizer doses in addition to seven million Moderna doses. Currently, the nation receives approximately one million Pfizer doses a week and will see its first million Moderna doses arrive this month, to be distributed primarily through pharmacies.

Currently everyone in Australia between 16 and 60 is eligible to receive Pfizer and AstraZeneca – and Moderna once it arrives – although demand for Pfizer doses is outstripping supply, particularly in New South Wales.

In Singapore, 80 percent of the adult population is now fully vaccinated and restrictions have eased, including for events – from August 19, business events of up to 1,000 vaccinated people have been permitted. Those who are unvaccinated are required to return a negative COVID-19 test within 24 hours of the event in order to attend.

Cases have increased in Singapore since restrictions eased, but the Government is monitoring rates of those who become severely symptomatic to ensure the healthcare system does not become strained. With a high rate of vaccination, the city state has also flagged that it will begin closing some of its vaccination centres, but it has also begun distributing rapid antigen tests to all households.