Sydney’s Delta Cases Keep Climbing Seven Weeks Into Lockdown
(Bloomberg) -- The delta-variant virus outbreak roiling Sydney has reached a fresh record, even as Australia’s most populous city is well into the seventh week of a lockdown ordering residents to stay-at-home.
New South Wales, Australia’s biggest state economy, recorded 356 new cases Tuesday -- the highest tally since this outbreak started in Sydney in mid-June and up from 283 the day before.
The clusters are largely concentrated in parts of the city’s south-western areas. The state recorded three more deaths, bringing total fatalities of the current outbreak to 32.
“We know New South Wales is going through challenging times but we also know that vaccination is a key tool in reducing the spread and preventing hospitalization,” state Premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters on Tuesday. About a third of the new people infected on Tuesday were infectious while in the community, raising fears Sydney’s outbreak could worsen.
With the nation’s two largest cities in lockdown, the delta variant of the coronavirus is placing increased pressure on Australia’s so-called “Covid Zero” strategy, which has relied on closed international borders and rigorous testing to eliminate community transmission of the virus. Prime Minister Scott Morrison is aiming to ramp up a tardy vaccine rollout in a bid to start reopening international borders next year.
The creeping spread of the variant into regional New South Wales has forced authorities to enforce snap lockdowns in areas hundreds of miles from Sydney, including Tamworth and Byron Bay.
Meanwhile, Victoria state recorded 20 new infections with the majority in the community while infectious. Melbourne may need to extend its lockdown, which is due to end on Thursday.
Support for Morrison’s handling of the crisis has fallen from 85% in April last year -- when his conservative government imposed strict border controls that helped keep virus fatalities to less than 1,000 -- to 48%, according to a Newspoll survey published in the Australian newspaper on Monday.
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