Australia has placed half of its population in lockdown after a third state has adopted movement restrictions to combat the highly contagious Delta variant.
Infections and deaths in Australia are far lower than in other industrialized countries, but the country’s use of lockdowns, triggered by a tardy vaccination program, is putting pressure on the national government, with polls at their lowest in a year and elections just months away.
Nearly four weeks after a lockdown of the city and neighboring areas to contain an epidemic of the deadly Delta type, New South Wales state, home to the country’s most populated city Sydney, registered 110 new cases, up from 78 the day before.
Even as the outbreak enters its second week under nationwide lockdown, Victoria state reported 22 new cases, up from nine the day before. This is the state’s largest increase since the outbreak began this month.
“Had we not gone into the lockdown a few weeks ago, the 110 number today would undoubtedly have been thousands and thousands,” said NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian at a televised news conference.
“But we need to work harder and, of course, all of us need to be on guard,” she added.