Australia deploys 300 soldiers to enforce Sydney lockdown
Sydney, Australia, Aug 2 (EFE).- About 300 Australian soldiers joined the police on Monday to ensure “maximum compliance” with the restrictions imposed in Sydney due to a Covid-19 outbreak linked to the highly contagious Delta variant.
“There is nothing new in this, there is no need for anybody to be concerned,” about the operation that will last for approximately six weeks, New South Wales Police Minister David Elliott said at a press conference, describing the deployment of soldiers as “normal.”
The soldiers, who will be unarmed and under police command, will help with contact tracing and ensure people with Covid-19 or those considered close contacts remain in isolation, among other tasks.
“As soon as the operation is concluded, as soon as we are no longer needed, we will step back (…) and let the state do what the state does best,” commander of the task force operation Brigadier Michael Garraway said.
“This is really just an expansion of the tasks that are currently underway,” he added.
These remarks come amid fears of a militarization of eight western and southwestern Sydney council areas, with a population of immigrants and refugees, where stricter restrictions have been imposed compared to the rest of Sydney, which is under lockdown until Aug. 27.
The deployment of the soldiers comes amid a high number of community infections from the Delta outbreak, detected more than seven weeks ago in Sydney, which has recorded about 3,700 local cases and 15 deaths.
The authorities of NSW reported 207 infections and one death on Monday.
About 1,000 police officials were deployed over the weekend to prevent a repeat of the anti-lockdown protest in Sydney on July 24, in which protesters clashed with the police and more than 50 people were arrested.
Australia, which has more than 25 million residents, has recorded 34,500 Covid-19 infections and 925 deaths since the start of the pandemic and is trying to accelerate its vaccination program, which it expects to conclude by Christmas, two months later than planned.
Only 19 percent of the population over 16 years has been fully vaccinated. EFE