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Australia's New South Wales state reports 30 new COVID-19 cases

Australia's New South Wales state reports 30 new COVID-19 cases

A public transport passenger wears a protective mask in the city centre on the first day of a two-week lockdown to curb the spread of a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Sydney, Australia, June 26, 2021. REUTERS/Loren Elliott

MELBOURNE: Australia's New South Wales reported 30 new coronavirus cases on Sunday (Jun 27), authorities said, as Sydney and its surroundings woke up to the first day of a two-week lockdown imposed to quell an outbreak of the highly contagious Delta variant.

Sunday numbers, collected before 8pm on Saturday, take the number of infections linked to the Bondi outbreak to 110 and two other cases remain investigation. Some 52,000 tests were conducted.

"Given how contagious this strain of the virus is, we do anticipate that in the next few days, case numbers are likely to increase beyond what we have seen today because we are seeing that people in isolation, unfortunately, would have already transmitted to all their house contacts," state Premier Gladys Berejiklian told a news briefing.

On Saturday, several million of people in Sydney and the regions of Blue Mountains, Central Coast and Wollongong, which surround Australia's largest city, were ordered into a lockdown.

Neighbouring Queensland reported on Sunday two locally acquired COVID-19 cases, with authorities saying both infections were of the Alpha variant, first detected in the United Kingdom in September of 2020.

READ: Downtown Sydney, beachside suburbs locked down due to spike in Bondi Beach COVID-19 outbreak

READ: Sydney reinstates masks to contain Delta COVID-19 variant

Restaurants, bars and cafes were shuttered after stay-at-home orders for central neighbourhoods were extended across Sydney and to the coastal and mountainous regions surrounding the sprawling city.

Authorities had initially imposed movement restrictions on only those in Sydney's business district and affluent eastern suburbs, but the fast spread of cases in other areas saw the more drastic step introduced Saturday evening.

Health experts had advised that a shorter snap lockdown - which has proved effective in other Australian cities in recent months - would not be enough to contain the growing cluster, Berejiklian said in announcing the measures.

The flare-up has been a shock for a city that had returned to relative normality after months with few local cases.

Sydney's restrictions require people to stay home for at least two weeks, only venturing out to purchase essential goods, obtain medical care, exercise, go to school or if they are unable to work from home.

Anyone outside of the lockdown zone who had visited Sydney since Monday was also instructed to self-isolate for 14 days.

READ: Sydney faces 'scariest period' in pandemic amid COVID-19 Delta outbreak

The city is experiencing the latest in a string of "circuit-breaker" lockdowns across major Australian cities, with most cases linked to returning travellers quarantining in hotel rooms.

Northern Territory, home to some of Australia's most famous ancient Aboriginal culture and a strong mining sector, which saw its first coronavirus case in months on Saturday, reported four locally acquired infections, unrelated to the Sydney outbreak.

The Delta variant infections started with a worker at a gold mine owned by Newmont Corp, now in lockdown.

As authorities have not been able to track down all close contacts of the miner, an immediate 48-hour hard lockdown on Darwin and some surroundings was imposed.

"I would rather regret us going too hard, too early than go too easy and risk it all," Chief Minister Michael Gunner said at a news briefing.

Australia has been among the world's most successful countries in containing COVID-19, with just over 30,000 cases and 910 deaths in a population of about 25 million.

But the government has faced criticism for a sluggish vaccine roll-out, with about 7.2 million doses administered by Friday and only a small proportion having received both jabs.

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Source: AGENCIES/rw

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