Melbourne eases lockdown as coronavirus cases decline

From midnight Sunday, Melbourne residents will no longer face limits on the time they can spend away from their homes. (AFP)
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Updated 18 October 2020

Melbourne eases lockdown as coronavirus cases decline

  • From midnight Sunday, Melbourne residents will no longer face limits on the time they can spend away from their homes

MELBOURNE: Australia’s second-largest city, Melbourne, has loosened lockdown restrictions as new and active COVID-19 continue to decline.
From midnight Sunday, Melbourne residents will no longer face limits on the time they can spend away from their homes for education or recreation. Previous restrictions allowing Melburnians to travel only 5 kilometers from home will increase at midnight to 25 kilometers.
Outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people from two households will be allowed and golf and tennis can resume.
Victoria state reported only two new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday and no deaths. The rolling 14-day average of cases dropped to eight, the lowest in four months.
There were only 137 active cases across Victoria state on Sunday with 12 people receiving hospital treatment, none in intensive care.
Regulations will be further loosened on Nov. 2 with the partial reopening of shops, bars and restaurants.


‘Disturbing’ allegations of rape in Ethiopia’s Tigray conflict: UN

Updated 22 January 2021

‘Disturbing’ allegations of rape in Ethiopia’s Tigray conflict: UN

  • A UN representative said she was greatly concerned by serious allegations from the northern region

ADDIS ABABA: The UN says it has received “disturbing” reports of sexual violence and abuse in Ethiopia’s conflict-hit Tigray region, including of individuals forced to rape members of their own family.
Pramila Patten, the UN’s special representative on sexual violence in conflict, said she was greatly concerned by serious allegations from the northern region, including “a high number of alleged rapes” in the Tigrayan capital Mekele.
“There are also disturbing reports of individuals allegedly forced to rape members of their own family, under threats of imminent violence,” Patten said in a statement Thursday.
“Some women have also reportedly been forced by military elements to have sex in exchange for basic commodities.”
Patten called on all parties involved in the hostilities to commit to a zero-tolerance policy for crimes of sexual violence.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, winner of the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize, announced military operations in Tigray in early November, saying they came in response to attacks by the regional ruling party on federal army camps.
Abiy declared victory after federal forces entered the regional capital in late November, though leaders of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) remain on the run and have vowed to fight on.
Thousands have died in the conflict, according to the International Crisis Group, though a communications blackout and media and humanitarian access restrictions have made it difficult to assess the situation on the ground.
In her statement Thursday, Patten noted that “medical centers have indicated an increase in the demand for emergency contraception and testing for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) which is often an indicator of sexual violence in conflict.”
She called for full humanitarian access to Tigray, including camps for displaced people “and refugee camps where new arrivals have allegedly reported cases of sexual violence.”
She voiced concern about “more than 5,000 Eritrean refugees in and around the area of Shire living in dire conditions, many of them reportedly sleeping in an open field with no water or food, as well as the more than 59,000 Ethiopians who have fled the country into neighboring Sudan.”
The caretaker administration in Tigray did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Earlier this month state television broadcast footage of a meeting during which an unidentified man in a military uniform expressed concern about rapes in Mekele.
“Why are women being raped in Mekele city?” the man said.
“It wouldn’t be shocking had it been happening during the war, because it is not manageable so it could be expected. But at this moment while federal police and local police are back in town, it is still happening.”