SYDNEY (REUTERS) – Australia’s east coast states of New South Wales and Queensland faced an escalating battle against the Covid-19 Delta variant on Sunday (Aug 1), with millions under strict lockdown and authorities urging more testing and vaccinations to rein in the outbreaks.

Sydney and its surroundings, under a stay-at-home order for five weeks already, reported 239 new locally acquired cases of the highly infectious Delta strain, matching the record daily number in the current outbreak that was reported last Thursday.

The city’s 5 million residents and those in neighbouring regional centres spanning 200km of coastline are to stay home until Aug 28 at least. The total number of cases in the outbreak, which began in mid-June, has reached 3,427.

“I think what is important to know is that there is no roadmap for the Delta variant,” New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.

“The challenge for us is getting as many people vaccinated in August as possible so by the time 28 of August comes around, we have options as to how we can ease restrictions.”

Australia’s vaccination drive has been sluggish, with only 18 per cent of adults fully vaccinated so far. New South Wales Health Minister Brad Hazzard said that 70 per cent of the state’s population could be fully vaccinated in about four months.

 

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