Sydney Lockdown ‘Highly Unlikely’ to be Lifted as Cases Rise

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Sydney’s lockdown is “highly unlikely” to be lifted as scheduled next week as virus cases continue to rise, authorities said Sunday.

The Australia state of New South Wales recorded 77 new infections on Sunday, the highest daily tally reported in the current outbreak. State Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she expected cases to top 100 a day soon, as she again called on the community to respect lockdown rules.

“Do not leave your home unless you absolutely have to,” Berejiklian said at a press conference Sunday. “We are at a critical point.”

With the continuing rise in Covid-19 cases, it’s “highly unlikely” Sydney’s lockdown will be lifted as scheduled on July 16, Berejiklian said. The majority of new infections are linked to known cases, with the government particularly concerned about the spread of the virus within homes and between extended family households. The state reported its first death of the current outbreak -- a woman in her 90s who acquired the virus in her home. This is Australia’s first reported death from the virus since April 12

The total number of cases reported during the spread of the delta variant is 566.

With no swift end to the lockdown in sight, attention is turning to the economic damage caused by the lockdown. AMP Capital’s chief economist, Shane Oliver, said he estimates the city’s closure is costing A$1 billion ($749 million) a week.

“If the Sydney lockdown is extended much beyond the current three weeks, it will progressively cause more damage and take longer to recover from,” he said in a note to investors Friday. “It will also require more government lockdown assistance.”

Australia’s slow vaccine rollout, which has been dogged by a lack of supplies, means it is still largely unprotected against the virus. Just 26% of the country’s roughly 26 million people have received their first jab, compared with 68% in the U.K, according to Bloomberg’s Vaccine Tracker.

Sydney’s outbreak means plans for an Australia-Singapore travel bubble have been delayed until at least the end of the year, the Australian trade minister said Sunday. International borders are expected to stay shut to most travel until mid-2022.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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