Sydney braces for rise in COVID-19 cases as Delta outbreak worsens

Thirty-one local cases were reported in NSW on Friday, so far the biggest daily rise in cases during the latest outbreak and for 2021. Total infections have grown to more than 200 since the first case was detected more than two weeks ago.

Australia’s most populous state, New South Wales (NSW), on Friday warned residents to brace an increase in COVID-19 infections over the next few days as it reported the biggest daily rise in locally acquired cases recorded so far this year.

Country-wide, Australia is fighting outbreaks of the highly infections Delta variant simultaneously in three state capital cities, meaning nearly half of all Australians are currently under strict orders to stay at home.

NSW capital Sydney, Australia’s largest city and home to a fifth of the country’s 25 million population, is half-way through a two-week lockdown imposed in a bid to contain the Delta variant.

Thirty-one local cases were reported in NSW on Friday, so far the biggest daily rise in cases during the latest outbreak and for 2021. Total infections have grown to more than 200 since the first case was detected more than two weeks ago.

“We are anticipating there could be an increase in numbers over the next few days, then hopefully early next week we should see the impact of the lockdown really turning and having a positive impact,” NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters.

Queensland officials said lockdown rules will be eased in parts of Queensland from Friday, although they have been extended in state capital Brisbane and a neighbouring region for another day after three new cases were reported.

Stay-at-home orders in Perth and Darwin, the capital city of the Northern Territory, will be reviewed on Friday. NSW’s warning about a rise in cases comes as Australia’s national cabinet met on Friday amid calls from states to limit the numbers of international arrivals until the country reaches high vaccination coverage.

The national cabinet, the group of federal and state government leaders, was formed during the early days of the pandemic to coordinate the country’s response to COVID-19.Lockdowns, swift contact tracing and tough social distancing rules have helped Australia to suppress prior outbreaks, but the fast-moving Delta strain has alarmed authorities amid a sluggish nationwide vaccination drive.

The rollout, mired in confusion and frustration due to frequent changes in medical advice for the AstraZeneca vaccine, has become a flashpoint in relations between the federal government and state leaders.

State leaders of Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia are urging the federal government to lower the cap of international arrivals from around 6,000 a week, arguing the Delta variant was straining their hotel quarantine system. Most recent virus outbreaks in Australia have been traced to leaks in hotel quarantine.

 

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