On Thursday, the Australian government recorded more than 1,000 new domestic Covid-19 infections for the first time since the pandemic began amid an outbreak of cases around Sydney fueled by the Delta variant.
The Australian state of New South Wales, which is home to Sydney, recorded 1,029 infections in the past 24 hours, as an outbreak that started in mid-June rose to over 15,000 cases after spreading to nearby areas and forcing the implementation of Covid restrictions.
Despite the increase in cases and the risk of hospitals becoming overwhelmed, New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian has defended a decision to relax some restrictions for fully vaccinated individuals from mid-September.
In a few weeks, five fully vaccinated individuals will be allowed to meet outdoors, as long as they aren’t in a hotspot area, with Berejiklian claiming it was necessary for “the mental health and wellbeing of our community,” while providing “the lowest risk setting.”
Stay-at-home lockdown restrictions have been extended across New South Wales until September 10, with the region’s Deputy Premier John Barilaro warning that case numbers are currently “a tinderbox ready to explode.”
While the outbreak continues to grow in Sydney, the nearby Australian state of Victoria is battling to contain a smaller infection cluster within Melbourne, as 80 new cases were recorded on Thursday.
As Australia grapples to bring the domestic situation under control, maintaining strict border restrictions, more than half of the nation’s 25 million population is under lockdown orders amid a slow vaccine rollout. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Australia has recorded 45,750 confirmed cases and 984 deaths from the virus.
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