Australia’s most populous state, New South Wales (NSW), reported a slight rise in locally acquired COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, while officials tightened curbs to contain flare-ups of the highly infectious Delta variant in several other regions.
An outbreak in NSW capital Sydney linked to the variant has grown to nearly 150 cases. Worries the strain could touch off major outbreaks have forced lockdowns in three major cities and some form of curbs in several others – affecting more than 20 million Australians, or about 80% of the population.
Perth, capital of Western Australia, began a four-day lockdown starting Tuesday, joining Sydney and Darwin. Queensland will impose a snap three-day lockdown in capital Brisbane and some neighbouring regions from Tuesday evening.
“The risk is real and we need to act quickly, we need to go hard, we need to go fast,” Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said. The state reported two new local cases.
Sydney, home to a fifth of Australia’s 25 million population, is under a two-week lockdown until July 9 while the lockdown in the northern city of Darwin was extended for another 72 hours until Friday.