Sydney's COVID-19 cases grow, more restrictions loom

Reuters

Posted at Jun 26 2021 12:49 PM

MELBOURNE - Australia's New South Wales state reported 29 locally acquired COVID-19 cases on Saturday, with the authorities signaling more restrictions may be imposed on the partially locked Sydney as exposure sites increased.

Saturday's data includes 17 infections in the country's most populous state that were already announced on Friday, taking the number of infections linked to the Bondi outbreak to 80.

Australia has been more highly successful in managing the pandemic than many other advanced economies through swift border closures, social distancing rules and a high community compliance with them, reporting just over 30,400 cases and 910 COVID-19 deaths.

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But the country has struggled significantly with the vaccination rollout and small outbreaks continue. On Friday, the government granted provisional approval for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, potentially expanding its supply options.

New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she would hold an emergency government meeting with health authorities later on Saturday.

"The situation is worsening beyond what we would have liked to have seen this morning, and the reason for that is that the new exposure sites are outside of those areas of concern we had highlighted," Berejiklian told a news briefing.

"There is concern that some of those cases may have been exposed for a number of days without the person knowing they had the virus, and that's where our concern is. And that's what we will be looking at in the next few hours."

New South Wales is fighting to contain an outbreak of the highly infectious Delta variant. More than one million people in downtown Sydney and the city's eastern suburbs were put into a week-long lockdown on Saturday.

The lockdown, which the conservative state government was reluctant to impose, has created confusion. For example, King Street, a hip destination in Sydney's Newtown suburb filled with pubs and restaurants, was split in two— part locked down, part open.