Delta Variant COVID Outbreak Puts Sydney and Its Suburbs Under Lockdown

Sydney, the capital of New South Wales, and the surrounding suburbs of Blue Mountains, Central Coast and Wollongong, have entered a two-week lockdown as the country battles an outbreak of the highly infectious Delta COVID-19 variant.

Cases of the Delta variant were reported to have grown to at least 80 by Saturday, according to Reuters.

The U.K.'s Sky News reported Monday that Delta variant cases had reached triple digits.

According to the latest report on the New South Wales Health government website, there are at least 130 "active local cases" in the Australian state, as of 8 p.m. local time Sunday, June 27.

The website notes: "Active cases are defined as people who have tested positive for COVID-19, are in isolation and are being clinically monitored by NSW Health. A person will no longer be an active case when they are clinically released from isolation."

The NSW government website says everyone in the Greater Sydney area "must stay home unless you have a reasonable excuse," as outlined at the website.

"From 6pm [local time] on Saturday 26 June 2021, if you have been in Greater Sydney, including the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Wollongong and Shellharbour for any reason since Monday 21 June 2021, you must follow the stay-at-home rules and must continue to follow them for 14 days after you were last in Greater Sydney.

"If you live in, usually work in, or usually attend a university or other tertiary education facility in Greater Sydney you must also follow the stay-at-home rules, unless you have not been in Greater Sydney for the last 14 days," the website adds.

The mask mandate in the Greater Sydney area, which requires a face covering in all indoor areas as well as in other select settings, has been extended to all of NSW, the government website said.

In addition to all indoor areas, masks are also required in the following settings, as outlined by the NSW government website:

  • at certain outdoor gatherings
  • if you are on public transport
  • in a major recreation facility such as a stadium, or
  • if you are working in a hospitality venue.

At a news briefing Saturday, New South Wales State Premier Gladys Berejiklian said: "Even though we don't want to impose burdens unless we absolutely have to, unfortunately this is a situation where we have to.

"There was no point doing it for three days or five days because it wouldn't have done the job," Berejiklian said, according to FRANCE 24, with Agence France-Presse and Reuters.

Reuters reported Monday that Berejiklian said: "We have to be prepared for the numbers to bounce around and we also have to be prepared for the numbers to go up considerably."

"With this strain, we are seeing almost 100 percent transmission within households," she added.

The Greater Darwin area of Australia's Northern Territory also entered a lockdown from 1 p.m. local time on June 27 following a Delta variant infection.

The Northern Territory government website said the lockdown was extended for a further 72 hours until 1 p.m. local time on July 2. The regions under lockdown include Darwin, Palmerston and Litchfield Council areas as well as Wagait and Belyuen Shires.

The Greater Darwin area lockdown was triggered after a gold mine worker tested positive for the Delta variant.

France 24/AFP/Reuters reported Saturday that over 1,600 people who had contact with the worker across three states were ordered to be isolated.

Sky News reported Monday that officials are attempting to trace 900 mine workers across the country who could have been infected by the initial case.

According to Reuters, around 80 percent of the Australian population (over 20 million) are under some form of lockdown or other restrictions, with COVID-19 cases reportedly rising in nearly every state or territory.

Reuters reported Australia's federal treasurer Josh Frydenberg told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation the country is facing a "critical time" in its battle against COVID-19.

"I think we are entering a new phase of this pandemic, with the more contagious Delta strain," he said.

The latest lockdowns come as total confirmed cases in Australia approach 30,600, with 910 total reported deaths. Over 7.3 million vaccine doses have been administered across the country, as of Monday, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The Sydney Opera House in June 2021.
A view of the empty forecourt of the Sydney Opera House during the first day of lockdown in Sydney, Australia on June 26. Steven Saphore/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The wider picture

Coronavirus has infected more than 181.1 million people since it was first reported in Wuhan, China, including over 33.6 million in the U.S.

More than 3.8 million people have died and over 2.9 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered worldwide, as of Monday, according to Johns Hopkins.

The graphic below, produced by Statista, shows the share of the vaccinated population in different countries.

COVID vaccination across the world

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