SYDNEY: New South Wales, Australia’s most populous state, reported on Monday (Jul 12) 112 locally acquired COVID-19 cases, its biggest daily rise for this year, as capital city Sydney endures a hard lockdown for the third week to contain a Delta variant outbreak.
Of Monday’s cases, at least 34 spent time in the community while infectious, the state’s Premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters in Sydney.
She said many of the latest infections were passed between family members and close friends who met despite a ban on meeting anyone outside your household.
“If you put yourself at risk, you’re putting your entire family – and that means extended family, as well as your closest friends and associates – at risk,” Berejiklian warned.
There was, however, a glimmer of light as the number of newly-infected people who were out in the community while infectious dropped to 34 from 45 on Sunday.
Berejiklian said the progress of that figure in the coming days would determine whether Sydney’s lockdown, due to end on Friday, would be extended.
“That’s the number we need to get as close to zero as possible,” Berejiklian said during her daily televised briefing.
“It is really up to us. The health expert advice will be based on what those numbers look like. I can’t be clearer than that.”
New infections have been rising daily despite Sydney, home to a fifth of Australia’s 25 million population, entering lockdown more than two weeks ago.
Berejiklian warned on Sunday that the situation would worsen before getting better. Lockdown measures were toughened over the weekend, restricting residents to within 10km of home for exercise.
Outdoor gatherings have been limited to two people and only one person in a household can leave the home each day for buying essentials.
A Sydney woman in her 90s became the first person to die from locally contracted COVID-19 in Australia this year, officials reported on Sunday.
Australia has previously successfully suppressed sporadic flare-ups of infections through snap lockdowns, speedy contact tracing and tough social distancing rules.
With a total of about 31,200 cases and 911 deaths since the pandemic began, it has fared better than many other developed economies.
However, the highly transmissible Delta strain and a sluggish vaccine roll-out have stoked concerns of a significant outbreak. Only around 11 per cent of Australia’s adult population of more than 20.5 million have been fully vaccinated so far.