- NSW total cases in latest outbreak top 170
- South Australia records first local cases of 2021
- Sydney, Perth, Darwin, Brisbane, Alice Springs enfermés
- Singapore to quarantine Australian travelers at home
SYDNEY, June 30 (Reuters) – Australian authorities on Wednesday extended lockdown and social distancing measures to more of the country, with four major cities already under strict lockdown in a race to contain an outbreak of the variant highly contagious of the Delta coronavirus.
About one in two Australians are subject to stay-at-home orders, and millions more are subject to movement restrictions and mandatory masks amid outbreaks of COVID-19 in several places.
With more than five million residents of greater Sydney under a two-week lockdown until July 9, the state of New South Wales on Wednesday reported 22 new locally transmitted COVID-19 cases, all linked to previous infections.
This was up slightly from the previous two days, but still below the peak of the current outbreak of 30 new cases reported on Sunday.
“New South Wales is showing a constant rate of cases at this stage … but to date our fears of a huge escalation have not materialized and we certainly want it to be,” said the Prime Minister by Gladys Berejiklian to reporters in Sydney.
With a total of around 170 new locally transmitted cases since the first infection was detected two weeks ago in a limousine driver who transported airline crew members overseas, NSW is the ‘State or territory most affected by the current epidemic.
Residents of Sydney, Perth, Brisbane and Darwin were joined on Wednesday by those from the hinterland town of Alice Springs, the UNESCO-listed gateway to Uluru. Authorities issued stay-at-home orders for the city after a potentially infected traveler used the airport.
South Australia, meanwhile, reported its first locally transmitted cases for 2021, but failed to impose a full lockdown, saying it believed the threat was contained.
Instead, authorities limited the home rally and urged people to wear masks in public after reporting five new cases – a miner who returned home from a Northern Territory mine and his wife and children who s ‘were isolated.
Elsewhere in the country, Queensland has reported three new locally acquired cases, Western Australia has recorded one and the Northern Territory has recorded none.
Singapore said on Wednesday that Australian travelers will have to undergo a home quarantine for a week from Friday.
Lockdowns, strict social distancing, rapid contact tracing and high community compliance have helped Australia reverse previous outbreaks and keep its COVID-19 numbers relatively low. It has reported just over 30,550 cases and 910 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
But less than 5% of its 20 million adults have been fully immunized, prompting criticism of the slowness of the national immunization campaign.
The federal government announced Monday that it would compensate doctors who administer AstraZeneca (AZN.L) vaccines to people under the age of 60, after previously preferring doses of Pfizer (PFE.N) for that group of age due to blood clot problems.
Two deaths have been linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine, a 52-year-old woman and a 48-year-old woman.
However, Queensland state officials said they would not approve of the move, saying it would put their young population needlessly at risk.
“I don’t want an 18-year-old from Queensland to die of a bleeding disease which, if he got COVID, probably wouldn’t die,” said Jeannette Young, head of public health at the State of Queensland at a press conference.
Report by Renju José; Editing by Shri Navaratnam and Jane Wardell
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