Sydney reported a record-matching number of new local cases of Covid-19, while infections also rose in the state of Queensland, a day after its most-populous region went into lockdown.
There were 239 cases in Sydney in the 24 hours to 8 p.m. Saturday, equal to the tally set three days earlier and the most since the delta variant of the coronavirus began sweeping though nation’s largest city in June.
New South Wales state Premier Gladys Berejiklian said there were some signs that the virus is mostly being contained to parts of Sydney’s southwest, where the strictest curbs are in place.
While most residents have followed lockdown rules, frustrations have boiled over on several occasions. More than 1,300 police officers were deployed in Sydney on Saturday to deter any anti-lockdown demonstrators after a violent protests a week earlier. There were no significant disturbances this weekend.
Sydney’s lockdown has been extended three times times and there is a risk it won’t be lifted as currently scheduled on Aug. 28, given delta’s continued spread and Australia’s vaccination program that has lagged many other major economies.
Police said unarmed defense forces personnel would be working with them in Sydney to help with food deliveries, welfare door-knocks and compliance checks for stay-at-home and self-isolation orders.
There were nine new locally acquired cases discovered in Queensland, which on Saturday imposed a snap three-day lockdown in parts of its southeast, the state’s chief health officer, Jeannette Young, said at a briefing.
A new cluster in Queensland’s capital of Brisbane highlights the country’s vulnerability to fresh outbreaks, with only enough doses administered to cover 23% of the population, according to Bloomberg’s vaccine tracker.
Australia’s vaccine program, which has been heavily dependent on doses from AstraZeneca Plc, has suffered from hesitancy among many people concerned about the risk of blood clots. There is now an increasing effort to boost supplies of Pfizer Inc. shots.
The federal government is also in talks to secure Covid therapy medicines that can reduce the severity of infections, the Sunday Telegraph reported, without saying where it got the information.
Victoria state, the epicenter of previous outbreak in Melbourne, reported four new local cases. In New Zealand, there were no new cases in the community, according to health authorities.
The country will begin reopening and avoid snap lockdowns once 70% of the entire adult population has been fully vaccinated, the federal government said on Friday. –BLOOMBERG