Delta Worsens in Australia’s Biggest Cities Despite Lockdowns
The delta outbreak worsened across Australia’s biggest cities, with cases in Sydney and Melbourne hitting fresh highs for the current outbreak.
Sydney recorded 319 new cases, New South Wales state’s Minister for Health Brad Hazzard told reporters on Saturday. There were 5 deaths.
Victoria had 29 new cases, according to a tweet from the state’s health department, the most in the current wave of infections. Queensland added 13, the state’s Chief Medical Officer Dr Jeannette Young said.
Since the highly contagious variant leaked into Sydney’s community in mid-June, the delta strain has caused havoc on Australia’s eastern coast, its most populated area. About two-thirds of the country’s population is in lockdown, including its three largest cities.
Delta is placing increased pressure on the nation’s so-called “Covid-zero” strategy, which has relied on closed international borders and rigorous testing to eliminate community transmission of the virus. Even as other developed nations such as the U.S. and U.K. open up, Australia’s economy -- particularly the domestic tourism and retail sectors -- is increasingly being hit by the outbreaks.
The central bank estimates household spending dropped about 15% during the lockdown and has acknowledged the economy will likely contract this quarter. Still, it expects a robust recovery to resume, and this week decided to stick with plans to taper bond purchases.
Plans to reopen have been hampered by a tardy vaccine roll-out. Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been criticized by health experts and the main Labor opposition, amid accusations he botched the nation’s good start to managing the pandemic by refusing to adjust a fragile hotel-quarantine system that’s seeing more leaks due to delta, along with failing to quickly secure vaccine contracts with a broad range of suppliers.
Morrison last week said the country would begin reopening and start to avoid snap lockdowns once 70% of the entire adult population had been fully vaccinated.
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.