Millions of Sydney residents began on Sunday the first full day of a two-week coronavirus closure as Australia imposed new restrictions to contain a highly contagious Delta variant outbreak.
Restaurants, bars and cafes were closed after home stay orders for downtowns were extended Saturday evening city and in the coastal and mountainous regions surrounding it.
While downtown it was virtually deserted, a large number of surfers and swimmers touched the water on Sydney’s Bondi beach, although it was allowed to exercise outdoors.
The northern Australian city of Darwin also entered a separate 48-hour shutdown on Sunday after a handful of cases were linked to a coronavirus outbreak at a remote gold mine.
Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner said officials were concerned about not being able to establish close contacts with infected people in the region, where a large indigenous population feared being more vulnerable to COVID-19.
“Right now we are taking extreme measures to stop or stop any spread before the coronavirus is released into the territory, and that means we need a blockade,” he said.
Health experts had reported that a shorter instantaneous closure of Sydney – which has been shown to be effective in other Australian cities in recent months – would not be enough to contain the growing cluster, said New York State Prime Minister South Wales, Gladys Berejiklian.
More than 110 cases of COVID-19 have been reported since a driver of an international flight crew tested positive for the highly contagious variant of Delta, which first emerged in India, in mid-June.
“Given how contagious this strain of the virus is, we anticipate that in the coming days case numbers are likely to rise even beyond what we have seen today,” Berejiklian told reporters on Sunday.
The outbreak has been a shock to a city that had returned to relative normalcy after months with few local cases.
Matt Daly, 37, who lives south of Sydney, said he supported the measures but anticipated a “trial” period to work from home and entertain his two young children who are school holidays.
“A lot of juggling over the next two weeks. I really hope it doesn’t spread further,” he told AFP.
Sydney restrictions require people to stay home until at least July 9, only venturing out to buy essential goods, get medical care, exercise, go to school or if they can’t work from home.
Professional musician Blain Cunneen, 27, said his work, performing concerts, study sessions and teaching students, had been “smoked” overnight.
“Everything was starting to work again almost normally … suddenly, overnight, I received a lot of emails and text messages about canceling everything,” he told AFP .
Anyone outside the closure area who had visited Sydney since Monday was also instructed to isolate himself for 14 days, while several other states have banned travel to and from the city.
It is the latest in a series of “circuit breaker” blockades in major Australian metropolises, with most cases related to the quarantine of returning travelers.
More than 150,000 people in Darwin and surrounding areas receive orders to stay home for at least 48 hours to give health officials time to track contacts, for the first time since the national shutdown in the early stages of the pandemic.
“Northern territory now faces its greatest threat since the COVID crisis began,” Gunner said.
Cases of COVID-19 were also detected in the major cities of Perth and Brisbane on Sunday, prompting local authorities to tighten restrictions.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said he was confident Australia would get it.
“It’s a tough day, but we’ve done it before, we know how to do it. And we’ll get it,” he said.
Australia has been one of the most successful countries in the world to contain COVID-19, with just over 30,000 cases and 910 deaths in a population of about 25 million. However, the government has faced criticism for a slow deployment of vaccines.
© 2021 AFP
Citation: Millions of Sydney residents in coronavirus blockade (2021, June 27) recovered on June 27, 2021 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-06-millions-sydney-coronavirus-lockdownresidents .html
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