Australia Covid live news update: Victoria looks to open early as state nears 70% vaccine target; NSW to decide on plan for 80% opening








Wilcannia locals are celebrating the news there have been no new Covid cases for two weeks, but say they are now on the long path to recovery after the virus hit “like a cyclone” in August.

Wednesday was the 15th consecutive day of no new cases, an “incredible” outcome according to Brendon Adams, who runs Wilcannia River radio and who worked on the frontline during the crisis.

“It was like a cyclone, we were just overwhelmed by the impact,” Adams said. “There was a lot of depression, there was isolation but our community came together, and to see an outcome such as this is unbelievable.”

As NSW lifts restrictions, one Aboriginal health expert warned that “we are still in the thick of it”, with new cases appearing in other Aboriginal communities every day.

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Australians hoping to fly overseas in the coming months are facing exorbitant costs due to high demand and a scarce supply of seats on services flying into the country, as experts warn high prices will last another year.

The complicated logistical planning required for airlines to ramp up from skeleton operations has meant those seeking to take advantage of the reopened border will face financial hurdles, while aircraft are recalled from desert parking lots and furloughed staff and ground handling contracts are brought back online.

A backlog of more than 45,000 Australians are still stranded overseas, adding another layer of complexity, demand and frustration to the picture.

An analysis of flight costs provided to Guardian Australia by the booking site Kayak shows the average cost of a one-way economy ticket from Sydney to New Delhi – the most sought-after route on the site over the past month – is $1,051, while the return leg on average adds $2,668 to the ticket cost for travel between November and December.

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