Sydney, Australia, Jul 7 (EFE).- Australian authorities on Wednesday extended the lockdown imposed on more than 5 million residents of the country’s most populated city of Sydney, and some surrounding areas by another week due to a Covid-19 outbreak linked to the highly contagious Delta variant.
On Wednesday, the state of New South Wales, the capital of which is Sydney, recorded 27 new local Covid-19 cases, taking the number of such infections to over 350 since mid-June, when it was reported that a driver who transports overseas airline crew members from Bondi, a popular tourist hotspot, was infected with the Delta variant.
The “difficult decision” to extend the lockdown in Sydney, until midnight on July 16, and impose other restrictions in the rest of NSW is due to the fact that many of the infected spent time in the community during their infectious period, state premier Gladys Berejiklian said.
“I can foreshadow overnight that we’ve had a number of cases, more than we would like to have seen, so I’m anticipating that tomorrow’s number will be higher than what we have seen today but they are at the moment concentrated in three local government areas,” Berejiklian added, in reference to new outbreaks linked to the Delta variant in western Sydney.
The Sydney outbreak forced the state government to confine the more than 5 million residents of the city and surrounding areas, which represent over 20 percent of the country’s 25 million residents, on June 26, while other regions also ordered localized lockdowns, which have already been lifted.
In Queensland, a state bordering NSW and battling an outbreak linked to the Alpha variant, a new Covid-19 community case was reported on Wednesday, while Victoria, the country’s second most populated state, has not recorded any case for the past seven days after confining its capital city, Melbourne, for two weeks between May and June.
Following the outbreak in Sydney, Australia, which closed its borders in March 2020 and plans to reopen them in mid-2022, halved the number of international arrivals from about 6,000 to 3,000, which has complicated the repatriation of more than 34,000 residents and citizens stranded abroad.
The Covid-19 outbreak, which causes daily losses of around AU$143 million ($107 million) according to consultancy firm AMP, has reopened the debate around the vaccination campaign, which is behind schedule.
Australia, which has recorded more than 30,800 Covid-19 infections since the start of the pandemic, including 910 deaths, has administered the first dose to more than 8.4 million people although only five percent of the population is fully vaccinated.