The COVID-19 Delta outbreak in Australia’s largest city, Sydney, increased by 239 cases on Thursday, the largest daily increase since the start of the pandemic, forcing authorities to increase police powers to shut down companies failing to comply with foreclosure measures.
More than two million residents of eight Sydney hotspots will now be forced to wear masks outside and will have to stay within 5 km (3 miles) of their homes.
Sydney is in its fifth week of an extended nine-week lockdown, which is expected to end on August 28, but the spread of the highly transmissible Delta variant continues to grow.
“It only takes a handful of people, or a small percentage, to do the wrong thing, to cause a setback for all of us. We cannot afford setbacks, ”State Prime Minister Gladys Berejiklian told reporters in Sydney.
Most of the new locally acquired cases have been detected in Sydney, with at least 66 cases having spent time in the community while they were infectious. Authorities have said the Sydney lockdown will not ease until cases in the community are close to zero.
New South Wales reported a total of 177 cases a day earlier.
Sydney, home to a fifth of Australia’s 25 million people, is grappling with its worst outbreak of this year, forcing authorities on Wednesday to extend lockdown restrictions for another month.
More than 2,800 cases have been detected to date, with 182 people hospitalized. Fifty-four are in intensive care, 22 of which require ventilation. Two new deaths were recorded, bringing the total number of deaths in the latest outbreak to 13.
With only around 17% of people over 16 fully vaccinated in the state of New South Wales, infections have steadily increased despite Greater Sydney’s lockdown since June 26.
The extended lockdown of Greater Sydney of around six million people is expected to have a heavy impact on Australia’s $ 2,000 billion Australian economy ($ 1.5 trillion), with many businesses being forced to shut down, increasing costs. chances that the country will register its second recession in as many years.
Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said he expected the national economy to contract in the September quarter, but hoped Australia could avoid a recession if New South Wales removed the epidemic.
“As for the December quarter, it depends to a large extent on the success of New South Wales, our largest state economy, in getting this virus under control,” Frydenberg told the Australian Broadcasting Corp .
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