Australia struggled to contain several COVID-19 groups across the country on Monday, in what some experts have described as the nation’s most dangerous stage of the pandemic since its early days.
Sydney to the east and Darwin to the north were closed on Monday. Perth, in the west, forced the masks on for three days and warned that a blockage could occur after a resident tested positive after visiting Sydney more than a week ago.
Brisbane and Canberra will be required to wear masks. The southern Australian state announced new statewide restrictions starting Tuesday.
Australia has been relatively successful in containing clusters throughout the pandemic, recording less than 31,000 cases since the pandemic began. But the new clusters have highlighted the slow implementation of vaccines in the country with only 5% of the population fully vaccinated.
Most of the new cases come from a Sydney limousine driver who tested positive for the delta variant on 16 June, which is believed to be more contagious. He was not vaccinated, reportedly not wearing a mask and is suspected of being infected while transporting a foreign air crew from Sydney Airport.
On Monday, the state of New South Wales reported 18 new cases in the last 24-hour period. The count was less than 30 cases recorded on Sunday and 29 on Saturday.
Authorities warned that a two-week Sydney closure that began on Friday would not reduce the infection rate for another five days.
“We need to be prepared for the numbers to bounce back and we also need to be prepared for the numbers to rise considerably,” said New South Wales Prime Minister Gladys Berejiklian.
Health policy adviser Bill Bowtell, who was the architect of Australia’s first AIDS response in the 1980s, said the government should consider accelerating vaccinations by reducing the gap between AstraZeneca shots 12 to 8 weeks.
“We are really facing the worst crisis in the COVID pandemic since the early days of February-March last year,” Bowtell said.
The crisis has also highlighted the dangers posed by hotel quarantine, which is the source of most cases of the spread of community viruses in Australia.
A mine worker is suspected of being infected with the delta variant while in a hotel quarantine in Brisbane, Queensland, before flying to a gold mine in northern territory.
He miner infected at least six people in the mine. One of the infected miners had since traveled home to Queensland and another to New South Wales.
Authorities were trying to track down 900 mine workers across the country who may have been infected by the initial case.
The Northern Territory capital, Darwin, and neighboring Palmerston closed Sunday 48 hours after an infected miner returned home to Palmerston.
That blockade would last until Friday after another miner tested positive after returning home to Darwin on Friday, officials said Monday. The Northern Territory had never experienced the spread of COVID-19 in the community.
Queensland reported three new cases on Monday, including the miner. She is one of 170 potentially infected miners living in the state and flying away from work.
Masks will be mandatory starting Tuesday for two weeks in Brisbane and several surrounding cities.
“The next 24 to 48 hours will be very crucial in Queensland on whether or not we see this spread of the delta strain,” Queensland Prime Minister Annastacia Palaszczu said.
The Queensland government has called on the Federal government tighten already severe border restrictions to reduce the number of travelers arriving in Australia.
The state of Western Australia reported a new case in Perth related to the Sydney cluster. The state hosts 177 of the potentially infected miners.
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Citation: Australia fights several clusters in a new pandemic phase (2021, June 28) recovered on June 28, 2021 at https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-06-australia-clusters-pandemic-phase.html
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