About 18 million Australians are now in some form of containment.
Australia’s Covid-19 response committee is due to hold an emergency meeting on Monday as outbreaks of the highly contagious Delta variant across the country have caused a lockdown in Sydney and renewed restrictions elsewhere. Around 18 million Australians, or roughly 70% of the population, are now subject to some form of lockdown or Covid-related restrictions as authorities grapple with Covid-19 outbreaks in nearly every state or territory .
“I think we are entering a new phase of this pandemic, with the Delta strain more contagious,” Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg told the Australian Broadcasting Corp on Monday, adding that Australia was facing a “critical time” in its fight against COVID-19.
The national security committee, chaired by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, will be briefed by the country’s chief medical officer later Monday, Frydenberg said.
Sydney, Australia’s most populous city and home to a fifth of Australia’s 25 million people, was put into a two-week lockdown over the weekend.
Eighteen new local cases were reported in New South Wales state on Monday, up from 30 a day earlier, bringing the total number of infections in the last outbreak to 130 since the first case was detected almost two weeks ago at a limousine driver who carried a foreign airline crew.
“We have to be ready for the numbers to rebound and we have to be ready for the numbers to rise dramatically,” Prime Minister Gladys Berejiklian told reporters in the state capital, Sydney.
“With this strain, we observe a transmission of almost 100% within households. “
The northern city of Darwin entered a two-day lockdown on Sunday, prompted by the detection of the Delta variant of the virus – unrelated to the Sydney outbreak – in a mine worker in ‘or FIFO after leaving the establishment.
The state of Queensland reintroduced mandatory masks and limited home gatherings in several regions, including the state capital Brisbane on Monday, following a similar decision by Western Australian officials for the capital of the State, Perth. Restrictions remain in place in the state capital of Victoria, Melbourne, and the national capital Canberra.
A health alert was issued this weekend for hundreds of passengers after an infected Virgin Australia cabin crew member worked on five different flights covering Brisbane, Melbourne and Gold Coast.
Australia has so far fared far better than many other developed countries in tackling the spread of the coronavirus, with just over 30,450 cases and 910 deaths.
Lockdowns, strict social distancing rules, and rapid contact tracing have helped the country successfully suppress past outbreaks, but the fast-growing Delta variant has alarmed health officials.