Sydney readies for more military support as Delta sweeps city

Sydney, Australia | Fri, August 13, 2021

More defense personnel may begin patrolling Sydney next week to ensure that lockdown restrictions are followed, as officials warned on Friday of a surge in cases in Australia’s largest city after it reported the greatest daily increase in infections ever. “Unfortunately, this tendency (in certain cases) will continue for at least the next few days,

” Gladys Berejiklian, the state premier of New South Wales (NSW), told reporters in Sydney. As the number of daily COVID-19 cases in the city approaches record levels, the defense department says it has received a request for additional people to assist state police in enforcing home-quarantine orders in the worst-affected suburbs.

A military department spokeswoman told Reuters that “defense is ready to send an additional 200 personnel beginning Monday… to help NSW police force.” Over 500 unarmed army officers are currently assisting Sydney police, including checking compliance actions at hotels and airports.

Despite a nearly seven-week lockdown in Sydney, NSW state recorded 390 new locally acquired cases, with the majority of the cases occurring in the metropolis, surpassing the previous day high of 356 cases set on Tuesday. For the past four days, daily cases have surpassed 300.

Two more deaths have been reported, bringing the total number of those killed in the state’s most recent outbreak to 38. Due to people breaking the Sydney lockdown and spreading the virus, some remote communities in NSW are also on lockdown.

The community of Walgett in far northwest NSW, where 80 percent of the population is indigenous, is one of the most alarming. COVID-19 outbreaks in poor indigenous communities have long been feared by Australian authorities.

Berejiklian said the epidemic of the highly infectious Delta type had never been “tried in this magnitude in Australia,” but he stopped short of proposing stronger limits, instead urging Sydney’s five million inhabitants to adhere to the existing limitations to contain the outbreak. “I’m sick of hearing individuals say they have no idea what they’re supposed to do,” Berejiklian remarked.

The increase in cases comes as Australia’s national cabinet prepares to meet later on Friday, amid concerns that the Delta outbreaks in NSW could spread across the country, where only about 25% of people over the age of 16 have received full vaccinations.

To combat the spread, some states have closed their borders with NSW or imposed entry restrictions. The Australian Financial Review reported on Friday that Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who has been chastised for a slow vaccination rollout, has been calling other world leaders in an attempt to secure immediate vaccine shipments, as the latest outbreaks have prompted a surge in vaccinations.

Requests for comment to the prime minister’s office were not returned. Sydney and Melbourne, Australia’s two major cities, are on extended lockdowns, while Canberra residents awoke on Friday to their first tight stay-at-home restrictions in more than a year.

Despite recent outbreaks, Australia continues to have much fewer COVID-19 infections and deaths than many other industrialized countries, with just over 38,100 cases and 948 deaths. In Victoria, 15 new local cases were discovered, all in Melbourne, compared to 21 on Thursday. According to the state’s health agency, seven of the new patients spent time outside while infectious. Eleven are linked to the current outbreak.

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