Coronavirus cases in Australia soared again on Thursday, despite a week-long lockdown, with officials warning that infections will rise higher and take a toll on the economy as the country fights to contain the highly contagious Delta variant.
Australia’s most populous state, New South Wales (NSW), reported 124 new COVID-19 cases, up from 110 a day earlier, a record for this year and the most in 16 months. Most of the infections were recorded in the state capital Sydney, which is in the fourth week of lockdown.
The state of Victoria reported 26 new cases, up from 22, entering the second week of the stay-at-home order.
NSW chief Gladys Berejiklian said: “We anticipate that the number of cases will continue to rise before decreasing and we need to prepare ourselves for this.”
State health officials say the number of people moving in the community before being diagnosed is of most concern, up from 48 in NSW on Wednesday.
Sydney, home to Australia’s fifth of 25 million people, was due to come out of lockdown on July 30, but Berejiklian has said the number of infections in the community should be close to zero at first.
He appealed to the people to get vaccinated.
“Until enough of our population is fully vaccinated, we will live with some level of restriction and it will depend on how quickly we can address the severity of the current outbreak,” she said.
“Vaccine is the key to our freedom.”
Neighboring Queensland state closed its border to NSW, citing the outbreak, closing one of the most traveled routes in the country.
In Victoria, in the south of NSW, all 26 new cases were linked to known chains of transmission and 24 were in quarantine during their infectious period, state officials said.
The state of South Australia reported two new cases as officials track two “superspread events” – gatherings at a winery and a Greek restaurant in the state capital, Adelaide.
Australia’s $2 trillion ($1.5 trillion) economy could take a big hit from the latest lockdown, forcing more than half its population indoors, with massive business closures in the country’s two largest cities. Have given.
The economy reached pre-pandemic levels earlier this year https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/australia-gdp-climbs-18-q1-back-pre-pandemic-time- 2021-06-02 Thanks to fewer COVID-19 cases.
But Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg estimated that the latest lockdown could cost the national economy about $300 million ($220 million) a day.
“It’s going to have an impact on the economy. We’ll see jobs data as well as GDP growth numbers in the future,” Frydenberg told Australian Broadcasting Corp.
The country’s main airline, Qantas Airways, said in a memorandum to employees that domestic capacity has fallen below 40% of pre-COVID levels and that employees will be left without pay if the lockdown continues for an “extended period”. can be erected.
With some 32,200 cases and 915 deaths, Australia has fared better than many other developed economies in keeping infections relatively low. But with a rapid vaccination campaign, with only 11% of the population fully vaccinated, it has relied on lockdowns and border closures to contain the outbreak.
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