The City of Sydney, Australia has ordered the closure of construction sites, prohibited non-essential retail, and threatened to fine employers who let employees enter the office, as new COVID-19 cases have been rising after the city has been locked down for three weeks.
On Saturday, authorities in New South Wales, with Sydney as the capital, also banned hundreds of thousands of people in the western suburbs of the city (the most affected area) from leaving nearby communities to work because they recorded 111 new cases. The previous 24 hours was higher than 97 the previous day.
The state also recorded another death from the virus. Since the beginning of the year, the total number of deaths has reached 3, and the total number of deaths nationwide has reached 913 since the beginning of the pandemic.
New South Wales Governor Gladys Berejiklian said at a television news conference: “I don’t remember our state has been challenged so severely.”
This city with a population of 5 million, Australia’s largest city, Has been blocked According to the authorities, starting from June 26, the planned end date is July 30, after an airport transit driver brought the virus into the community and triggered an outbreak of highly contagious variants.
Since then, more than 1,000 people in the city and surrounding areas have tested positive.
Health leaders are most concerned about the number of infected people who were active in the community before testing positive. On Saturday, 29 people were reported, which was the same as the previous few days.
‘Chasing our tail’
State Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said at a press conference: “In terms of cases, we are catching up to our tail.”
The Deputy Commissioner of the New South Wales Police, Gary Worboys, said the “police response speed will increase” in the greater Sydney area and remote areas.
Stores that can continue to operate in Sydney include supermarkets, pharmacies and hardware stores. The authorities stated that all construction work must be stopped before July 30, including cleaning, property maintenance and home renovations.
People living in Sydney’s three local government jurisdictions (with a total population of 612,000) are prohibited from leaving their jurisdiction to work unless they are emergency rescuers. The city has established work-from-home directives for businesses, but employers may be fined A$10,000 (US$7,402) if they tell employees to come to work in the office.
Neighboring Victoria also reported that the number of COVID-19 cases per day jumped from 6 the previous day to 19, raising concerns that it may extend the short-term lockdown originally scheduled to end on Tuesday.
The total population of Victoria and Greater Sydney is approximately 12 million, which means that nearly half of Australia’s population is under some form of lockdown.
Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley said that all new cases in Victoria were active in the community before they were diagnosed, but each case was related to a known chain of transmission.
Thanks to decisive response measures, including border closures, stay-at-home orders, and economic stimulus measures, Australia avoided high infections and deaths in many other countries in the early stages of the pandemic.
But after 18 months, The federal government faces criticism Because of its slow introduction of vaccines. According to government data, only over 10% of Australia’s 25 million people have been vaccinated, which is only a small percentage of the United States and the United Kingdom.
Even so, the death rate from the new coronavirus in Australia (only more than 900 deaths out of approximately 31,500 cases) is still low in comparison.
The Australian economy has recovered after falling into recession last year, but the recent blockade and state border closures may put it back into negative growth.
No other states reported new cases on Saturday.