Whangarei Mayor Sheryl Mai, left, and Kirk Milner at the Ngati Hine Health Trusthold hold up placards advertising a vaccination center in Whangarei, New Zealand, Oct 16, 2021. (MICHAEL CUNNINGHAM / NZME VIA AP)
NEW DELHI / AUCKLAND / SYDNEY / KUALA LUMPUR / ANKARA / TEHRAN - New Zealand vaccinated at least 2.5 percent of its people on Saturday as the government tries to accelerate inoculations and live with COVID-19, preliminary health ministry data showed.
Through an array of strategies, gimmicks and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's encouragement through the day, 124,669 shots were administered by late in the day in a country of 4.9 million.
"We set a target for ourselves, Aotearoa, you've done it, but let's keep going," Ardern said, using a Maori name for New Zealand at a vaccination site, according to the Newshub news service. "Let's go for 150 [thousand]. Let's go big or go home."
New Zealand had stayed largely virus-free for most of the pandemic until an outbreak of the Delta variant in mid-August. The government now aims to have the country live with COVID-19 through higher inoculations.
Forty-one new cases were reported on Saturday, 40 of them in Auckland, New Zealand's largest city. It has been in lockdown since mid-August to stamp out the Delta outbreak. Officials plan to end the strict restrictions when full vaccination rates reach 90 percent.
As of Friday, 62 percent of New Zealand's eligible population had been fully vaccinated and 83 percent had received one shot.
Vaccination spots were set up on Saturday throughout the country, including at fast-food restaurants and parks, with some spots offering sweets afterwards, local media reported.
Members of the crowd react as they stand together during Everest Race Day at Royal Randwick Racecourse in Sydney, Oct 16, 2021. (DAVID GRAY / AFP)
Thousands of Sydney residents flocked to a prominent horse race on Saturday, as Australia's biggest city emerges from a strict COVID-19 lockdown and the nation begins to live with the coronavirus through extensive vaccination.
Up to 10,000 fully vaccinated spectators can now attend races such as The Everest in Sydney, Australia's richest turf horse race, and the country's most famous, Melbourne Cup Day, on Nov 2.
New South Wales, Australia’s most populous state, achieved the milestone of fully vaccinating 80 percent of its adult population, Premier Dominic Perrottet said in a tweet, adding virus-related curbs will be further eased Monday.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison wrote on Facebook that the country is just over 2.5 million jabs away from hitting a similar 80 percent target nationally.
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Australia maintained a pause on the green zone, or quarantine-free, travel from the North Island of New Zealand until Oct 31, while adding that the lane for the South Island will recommence Oct 19 amid differing regional virus trends. Thousands of people joined an anti-lockdown protest in Auckland on Saturday, the same day as a government vaccination push, according to local reports.
Meanwhile, Australia's island state of Tasmania recorded no new local COVID-19 cases on Saturday, the first day after parts of the state entered a three-day snap lockdown since 6 pm local time on Friday.
Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein told Saturday's press conference that the next 48 hours remain critical for southern region of the state to get on top of the transmission.
India's COVID-19 tally rose to 34,053,573 on Saturday, as 15,981 new cases were registered during the past 24 hours across the country.
Besides, 166 COVID-19 related deaths were recorded since Friday morning, taking the toll to 451,980.
Iran reported on Friday 11,857 new COVID-19 cases, taking the country's total infections to 5,765,904.
According to an official briefing published on Iran's health ministry, the pandemic has claimed 123,695 lives in the country, after 197 new deaths were registered in the past 24 hours.
Malaysia reported another 7,420 new COVID-19 infections as of midnight Friday, bringing the national tally to 2,377,033, according to the health ministry.
Seventeen of the new cases were imported while the remaining locally transmitted.
Turkey on Friday confirmed 30,694 new COVID-19 cases, raising its tally of infections to 7,601,626, according to its health ministry.
The death toll from the virus rose by 181 to 67,225, while 25,513 more people recovered in the last 24 hours.
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