Australia’s worst day of the pandemic sees restrictions tightened: NPR
People exercise on Bondi Beach in Sydney on Monday, August 16, 2021. The whole of New South Wales is strictly closed. Australia’s most populous state reported its worst day of the pandemic with 478 new COVID-19 infections and seven deaths. Bianca De Marchi / AP Hide caption
Bianca De Marchi / AP
Bianca De Marchi / AP
CANBERRA, Australia (AP) – Australia’s most populous state reported its worst day of the pandemic on Monday with 478 new infections and seven COVID-19 deaths as pandemic restrictions tightened in other parts of the country.
The previous daily record in New South Wales was 466 new cases reported on Saturday.
Two of the dead had received a single dose of a two-shot vaccine. The rest are unvaccinated, said New South Wales Prime Minister Gladys Berejiklian.
Only 26% of Australians aged 16 and over had been fully vaccinated by Saturday. Australia has one of the slowest vaccine rollouts among affluent countries, making the spread of the Delta variant particularly dangerous.
The first shipment of 1 million Pfizer cans that Australia bought from Poland arrived in Sydney overnight.
Residents aged 16 to 39 in the hardest-hit suburbs of Sydney will be given 530,000 of the new doses, the government said. This age group was responsible for most of the virus spread.
Berejiklian blamed Sydney residents’ non-compliance with the city’s lockdown and stay at home restrictions for the escalating infections.
“The number of cases is worryingly high and we are … at a fork in the road,” said Berejiklian.
“We’ll see the numbers go down when people stay home and don’t move unless they absolutely have to. Until we see that, we won’t see the case numbers go down, ”she added.
Melbourne reported 22 new infections on Monday. Even with the much smaller problem, Victoria State Prime Minister Danial Andrews said Australia’s largest city after Sydney was at a “tipping point” in their struggle to eradicate all infections.
A lockdown that was supposed to end on Thursday has been extended from Tuesday to September 2 with a curfew from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.
Stricter restrictions include a ban on people removing face masks to drink alcohol in public. This followed a “Walk. Talk. Sip” event advertised on social media encouraging people to stroll from pub to pub in the suburb of Richmond on weekends with takeaway drinks.
“We saw people turn the sidewalk into an impromptu beer garden and go pub crawls,” said Andrews. “We’ve seen a lot of people break these rules, don’t do what they’re supposed to, and make really bad decisions.”
The state capital Canberra also extended a lockdown, which should end this week until September 2, after 19 new infections were reported on Monday. The virus came from Sydney, but the authorities don’t know how.
A total of 28 cases have been recorded since Canberra was locked, when the first case was discovered on Thursday last week.
The Northern Territory introduced a quick three-day lockdown based on an isolated incident discovered on Monday.
The American, aged 30, tested positive in the Northern Territory town of Katherine, where he had traveled for a job, officials said.
Katherine and the Northern Territory capital, Darwin, where he spent three days last week, will be locked until Thursday. People are only allowed to leave the house for compelling reasons and are required to wear masks outside of their homes.
The New South Wales government has been criticized for waiting 10 days before locking down Sydney after a limo driver was infected while transporting a U.S. flight crew from Sydney Airport and tested positive on June 16.
The New South Wales area was completely closed as of Saturday because infections and viruses recently found in regional cities were found in sewage north and west of Sydney.
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