The lockdown in Sydney, Australia will remain in place for a third week.
Officials say the Australian public is vulnerable to COVID-19 and the new delta variant because they are largely unvaccinated.
As NPR reported, “of 27 new infections of the delta variant reported in latest 24-hour period on Wednesday, only 13 had been in isolation while infectious. The delta variant is considered more contagious than the original coronavirus or other variants. Only 9% of Australian adults are fully vaccinated, heightening fears that the delta variant could quickly spread beyond control.”
A limos driver tested positive for the virus on June 19 after taking a U.S. flight crew to the Sydney airport. His case has since been linked to over 300 others.
Downtown Sydney and the suburbs to its east went into lockdown to June 25th. Initially, the lockdown was set to lift on June 30th. It was pushed back to July 2 at midnight. With the extensions, residents will have to wait until July 16.
From Reuters: “Lockdowns, swift contact tracing, strict social distancing rules and a high community compliance have largely helped Australia quash prior outbreaks and keep its COVID-19 numbers relatively low, with just under 30,400 cases and 910 deaths.”
Sydney is the largest city in the country with a population of nearly 5 million people. The now three week lockdown is regarded by officials as a preventative measure.
“New South Wales is demonstrating a steady rate of cases at this stage… but to date, our fears about huge escalation haven’t materialized and we certainly want to keep it that way,” said state Premier Gladys Berejiklian
When the pandemic threatened Australia last year, the government responded quickly. International boarders were closed and citizens returning to the country were require to isolate at home. The country developed a testing and tracing system that was considered highly effective. New South Wales and Western Australia reopened their local economies after two months of lockdown.
The nation’s proactive measures, however, left 40,000 of its citizens unable to return home, stuck in foreign countries. During 2020, there were never over 1,000 coronavirus cases at one time in the country.
Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story incorrectly referred to Sydney as the second largest city in Australia.