Australia’s New South Wales warns next 2 days ‘critical’ as COVID-19 outbreak grows
SYDNEY — Australia’s New South Wales (NSW) on Monday said the next two days would be “absolutely critical” in deciding whether a two-week anti-coronavirus lockdown in Sydney, set to end on July 9, will have to be extended amid rising Delta variant case numbers.
With more than five million Sydney residents under strict stay-at-home orders, total infections in the latest outbreak have topped 300. NSW reported 35 locally acquired cases on Monday, matching the biggest daily rise in infections so far this year, recorded two days ago.
“We expect the case numbers of people in isolation to keep going up,” NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters. “What we are really looking at are the number of people who have still been infectious in the community and what impact that will have in the next few days.”
Of Monday’s cases, 28 were either in isolation throughout or for part of their infectious period. Seven cases spent time in the community while they were infectious.
“The next couple of days will be absolutely critical,” Berejiklian said.
Sydney, the worst-affected city in the latest flare-up in infections in Australia, is battling to contain the highly infectious Delta variant. Perth, Brisbane and the northern city of Darwin came out of snap lockdowns over the weekend after officials there deemed the Delta strain there was under control.
Snap lockdowns, swift contact tracing, tough social distancing rules and a high community compliance have helped Australia to suppress past outbreaks, with just over 30,750 COVID-19 cases and 910 deaths since the pandemic began.
NSW’s Berejiklian said the lockdown had been effective so far in limiting new cases to tens rather than in hundreds, although she said many had breached health orders, helping the virus to spread.
Several players of an Australian rugby league team were fined A$1,000 ($750) by NSW police for breaching public health orders after throwing a party.
($1 = 1.3293 Australian dollars)
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