Australia's Queensland state starts Easter weekend with no new Covid-19 cases

MELBOURNE (REUTERS) – Australia’s state of Queensland, which has been battling a small outbreak of Covid-19, recorded no new cases on Friday (April 2) as the country began what the Prime Minister Scott Morrison called a “sacred” long Easter weekend.

On Thursday, a three-day snap lockdown was lifted on the state’s capital Brisbane, as authorities managed to contain the spread of the virus that quickly grew to 18 cases.

However, the economic costs of the outbreak is expected to be significant.

Australian media reported that many have cancelled their plans to visit the state, a popular destination for domestic travellers over the Easter break and subsequent school term holidays. The tourism industry is expected to lose A$35 million ($27 million).

Most Australian businesses and restaurants were closed on Friday, the first day of a four-day Easter weekend, which for some Australians remains a religious holiday.

“Easter is (…) a sacred time for those who share the Christian faith,” Morrison, a devout Pentecostal Christian, said in a social media video message. “Christians everywhere, our family included, will grow great strength and heart from the Easter message: a message of love, of hope and of forgiveness.”

Australia, which has been successful in managing the spread of the coronavirus, recording just over 29,000 cases and 909 deaths since the start of the pandemic, has had troubles rolling out its vaccination programme.

Around 670,000 doses had been administered by the end of March, well below Australia’s initial target of 4 million, with bickering going on between states and the federal government over who is to blame.

Queensland’s health officials said on Friday the state’s vaccination supplies will end within days and they were uncertain about the next delivery.

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