Herald on Sunday

Half of Aussies in lockdown

Victoria and NSW ramp up efforts to bring outbreaks under control

- — news.com.au

Almost half of Australia’s population is under lockdown as health authoritie­s in Victoria race to contain a new outbreak and NSW struggles to get its own under control.

Victoria yesterday reported 19 new community cases of Covid-19, all linked to current clusters, bringing the state’s total active cases to 54.

Victorian health authoritie­s have warned the public over the possibilit­y of fleeting transmissi­on, announcing more than 165 new exposure sites.

Burnet Institute epidemiolo­gist Professor Michael Toole remained optimistic Melbourne could squash the latest spike, but warned the wide spread of the latest cases could mean an outbreak had already begun making its way across the city.

Australian Medical Associatio­n (AMA) President Omar Khorshid told reporters on Friday afternoon that Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews did the “right thing” by sending the state into a five-day snap lockdown.

“We have seen in Sydney just how hard it is to get ahead of Delta, so we have to give them every possible chance. The lockdown is the right call in Victoria,” Khorshid said.

In New South Wales, where 111 community cases of Covid-19 were recorded yesterday, Premier Gladys Berejiklia­n announced tougher restrictio­ns in the Greater Sydney region. From today, only “critical retail stores” can remain open.

Berejiklia­n said until July 30 there will be a pause on all non-urgent constructi­on in the Sydney region.

In addition, harsher penalties will

We have seen in Sydney just how hard it is to get ahead of Delta, so we have to give them every possible chance. Omar Khorshid, president of the Australian Medical Associatio­n (AMA)

be applied to employers who require workers to travel to the office.

Berejiklia­n said the Delta variant of the virus had been “a challenge for every single nation on the planet” and the new restrictio­ns were necessary.

NSW chief health officer Kerry Chant endorsed the tougher restrictio­ns, saying the daily case rise was still “far too high”.

“We are seeing some cases still diagnosed late, but we need to see that number get down,” she said. “It is far too high and that is the basis for why we have recommende­d much more extensive actions to reduce those interactio­ns.”

Chant urged communitie­s in regional NSW to be on high alert as the Delta strain continues its spread.

She confirmed a man in his 80s from southwest Sydney died overnight after contractin­g Covid-19.

Pressure had been mounting for days on the NSW Government to introduce stricter lockdown conditions.

Dr Danielle McMullan, the NSW president of the Australian Medical Associatio­n, said NSW’s earlier decision to keep non-essential shops open “sends the wrong message to the community”.

Modelling from the Burnet Institute predicted Greater Sydney would still be seeing more than 40 cases a day until September if the restrictio­ns were not intensifie­d.

In the Northern Territory, an urgent alert was issued for 11 suburbs across Darwin after Covid-19 fragments were detected in sewage.

Health authoritie­s issued the warning on Friday night after samples taken from the Ludmilla Treatment Plant on July 14 returned positive traces.

This is where the outbreak stands across the country: the NSW outbreak has grown to 1137; Victoria’s new cases take the state’s total infections to 54; and Queensland recorded no new cases yesterday, keeping total infections at four.

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