Coronavirus cases in Australia rose again on Thursday, despite a multi-week lockdown, with authorities warning that infections would rise further and weigh on the economy as the country struggles to contain the highly contagious Delta variant.
New South Wales (NSW), Australia’s most populous state, reported 124 new cases of COVID-19, up from 110 a day earlier, a record for this year and the highest in 16 months. Most of the infections have been reported in the state capital Sydney, which is in its fourth week of lockdown.
Victoria state, entering a second week of stay-at-home orders, recorded 26 new cases, up from 22.
“We expect the number of cases to continue to rise before they start to decline and we need to prepare for them,” said Gladys Berejiklian, Premier of NSW.
Of most concern is the number of people moving through the community before being diagnosed, which was 48 in New South Wales on Wednesday, state health officials said.
Sydney, home to a fifth of Australia’s 25 million people, was due to exit the lockdown on July 30, but Berejiklian said the number of infections in the community had to be close to zero first.
She urged people to get vaccinated.
“Until our population is sufficiently vaccinated, we will live with some level of restriction and that will depend on how quickly we can overcome the severity of the current epidemic,” she said.
“The vaccine is the key to our freedom.”
The neighboring state of Queensland has closed its border with New South Wales, citing the outbreak, closing one of the country’s busiest roads.
In Victoria, south of NSW, all 26 new cases were linked to known chains of transmission and 24 were in quarantine throughout their infectious period, state officials said.
The state of South Australia reported two new cases as authorities tracked two “mass market events” – gatherings at a cellar and a Greek restaurant in the state capital, Adelaide.
With large amounts of businesses closed in the country’s two largest cities, Australia’s $ 2 trillion ($ 1.5 trillion) economy could be hit hard by the latest closures that have strained more than half of its population to remain indoors.
The economy had reached pre-pandemic levels during the first months of this year https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/australia-gdp-climbs-18-q1-back-pre- pandemic-time- 02-06-21 thanks to the low number of COVID-19 cases.
But the latest lockdowns could cost the national economy around A $ 300 million ($ 220 million) per day, Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg estimated.
“It’s going to have an impact on the economy. We’ll see that in future jobs data as well as in the GDP growth figures,” Frydenberg told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.
The country’s main airline, Qantas Airways, said in a memo to staff that national capacity had fallen below 40% of pre-COVID levels and that staff could be sacked without pay if blockages continued for long periods of time. “extended periods”.
Australia is doing better than many other developed economies in keeping infections relatively low, with some 32,200 cases and 915 deaths. But with a spray vaccination campaign, only 11% of the population fully vaccinated, it has relied on containments and border closures to contain the outbreak.
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