Sydney’s Stubborn Delta Outbreak May Trigger Lockdown Extension
(Bloomberg) -- Sydney’s outbreak of the delta-variant of the coronavirus is proving stubborn to get under control, raising concern Australia’s most-populous city may need to extend its two-week lockdown beyond Friday.
The city of about 6 million people recorded 35 new cases in the community on Monday from the day before, raising the total infections since mid-June to 312. They include 5 residents of an aged-care facility. 238 of the cases are directly linked to known cases in the Bondi cluster.
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“I know everybody is keen to know what is going to happen beyond Friday’s lockdown -- as am I -- but what I can tell you with certainty is that the next couple of days will be absolutely critical,” New South Wales state Premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters in Sydney.
New South Wales police have issued 125 personal infringement notices during the past 24 hours for offenses such as not wearing masks in shopping centers, while authorities had also detected some people hosting parties in contravention to rules.
“Unfortunately when a small number of people do the wrong thing, it does result in extra cases,” Berejiklian said. The lockdown had been responsible for the city avoiding as much as a tripling its covid cases in this outbreak, she said.
Sydney and its surrounding areas are the last places in Australia to remain in lockdown, which last week affected half the nation’s population.
The snap lockdowns have shown the limits of Australia’s so-called “Covid-zero” strategy, which has relied on closed international borders and rigorous testing to eliminate community transmission of the virus. In contrast to the U.K. and U.S. which have had relatively strong vaccination rates, a slow rollout in Australia means the economy, and particularly domestic tourism, remains vulnerable.
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