SYDNEY – A COVID-19 outbreak is worsening in Australia according to official data released on Saturday, while state officials in New South Wales now admit they have to try to eliminate the virus as delta variant infections increase in Sydney. The long-standing policy of doing so may have to be abandoned. .
In Australia’s three largest cities Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, more than half the population is under lockdown.
State officials in Victoria reported 29 new coronavirus cases in the past day, while Queensland confirmed 13 new infections on Saturday.
In Australia’s most populous state, New South Wales, the outbreak of the delta variant appears to be worsening. Three hundred and nineteen new cases were diagnosed in the last 24 hours. This is the first time since the pandemic began that the state has recorded more than 300 infections in a day. Twenty-four people have died so far since the outbreak was first detected in mid-June.
Australia records worst day of COVID-19 infection
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These figures may seem small compared to other countries, but in the Australian context they are significant.
Australia has had a policy of trying to crush the virus through international border closures and strict lockdowns, but officials have suggested eliminating the contagion, and whatever form it may take, given the highly contagious nature of the delta variant. It might not be possible.
Instead, he believes Australia may have to learn to live with COVID-19.
New South Wales Health Minister Brad Hazard, although remains optimistic, the numbers could drop sharply if lockdown restrictions are followed.
“Look, I’m still hopeful we’ll get back to zero, but there’s a very wild form of the delta virus. It’s wreaking havoc around the world,” Hazard said. “It’s almost a level of self-entitlement. Think you don’t have the vaccine, but your neighbors do. Well, no, you all do. We all do. Each and every one of us, and if you don’t get the vaccine.” And we don’t follow the rules, it makes it even more difficult to go back to zero, but I still hope we get there.”
Vaccination rates are lower than in many other countries due to lack of supplies and community concerns about potential side effects. Only 20% of Australians are fully vaccinated. Officials say the immunization rate should be between 50% and 80% for the lockdown restrictions to be eased.
Georgie Herman, head of mental health charity Beyond Blue, says the virus is causing extreme psychological distress.
“Ever since the pandemic started in Australia, we have been saying that the aftershocks and the long tail on mental health will not only be long, but really deep,” Herman said.
Around 36,000 coronavirus cases have been detected in Australia since the pandemic began. According to the Health Department, nine hundred thirty two people have died.