Sydney faces 'scariest period' in pandemic amid Delta outbreak

Sydney | Fri, June 25, 2021 | 6.45 pm

Australia’s most populous state, New South Wales (NSW), reported a double digit rise in new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 for the third straight day as officials fight to contain an outbreak of the highly contagious Delta variant. “Since the pandemic has started, this is perhaps the scariest period that New South Wales is going through,” state Premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters in Sydney.

Health officials in NSW have set tight restrictions in Sydney, Australia’s largest city and home to a fifth of the country’s 25 million people, claiming that transmission might occur even through minor contact with infected people.

NSW officials have resisted calls for a harsh lockdown thus far, despite Australia’s track record of successfully suppressing previous outbreaks through quick lockdowns, strict social distance measures, and rapid contact tracking. Since the pandemic began, Australia has reported just about 30,400 cases and 910 deaths.

Despite the virus variant’s high infectiousness, Berejiklian said her administration was “at this moment comfortable” with the present limits. Western Australia’s state premier, Mark McGowan, has asked NSW authorities to declare a state of emergency in order to “crush and kill” the virus, saying that “light touch” curbs might lead to an outbreak. Western Australia has closed it border to NSW.

To contain the state’s first epidemic in more than a month, NSW officials imposed mandatory masks in all indoor locations in Sydney, including offices, prohibited residents in seven council areas in Sydney’s east and inner west from leaving the city, and limited house gatherings to five. After some states, such as Western Australia, slammed their borders shut and others imposed stringent border laws, the state has effectively been cut off from the rest of the country.

On Thursday, eleven new local cases were recorded, bringing the total number of infections in the current outbreak to more than 40. Six instances were discovered after the 8 p.m. deadline on Thursday, and they will be counted in Friday’s total. After state Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall tested positive for COVID-19 and Health Minister Brad Hazzard was placed in isolation after being designated a suspected close contact of a positive case, NSW state parliament revealed a restricted list of lawmakers allowed inside the chamber on Thursday.

Three new local instances were recorded in Queensland, and one in Victoria, but officials in both states stated the cases are low-risk to the population because the afflicted people were in isolation when they caught the virus. On Thursday, neighboring New Zealand reported no new local cases, a day after raising the warning level in Wellington, the capital, due to exposure fears after an Australian tourist tested positive for COVID-19 upon returning to Sydney after a weekend visit. As a precaution, Wellington has been placed on a ‘level 2’ alert, which is one step below a lockdown, until Sunday midnight.

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