Authorities in Australia’s largest city, Sydney, are struggling to contain a spike in the highlight contagious Delta COVID-19 variant. The Australian Medical Association (AMA) called for a complete lockdown of Sydney to prevent the virus spreading and causing possible deaths.
Authorities have raised concerns about a potential super spreader event in a salon where three staff were infected and over 900 clients visited between June 15 and 23. As such, health alerts have been issued overnight for more than a dozen new venues across Sydney, which is home to a fifth of Australia’s 25 million population.
NSW, according to Reuters, has been effectively isolated from the rest of the country after other states reinstated tough border rules in response to the latest outbreak, including a total ban for visitors from Sydney’s virus-hit suburbs. The report stated that 22 local cases were reported on Friday, the biggest rise in infections since the first case was detected in Bondi last Wednesday in a limousine driver who transported an overseas airline crew. And 19 of these cases are linked to known infections, while three are under investigation.
Omar Khorshid, AMA President, said the latest restrictions were not quite enough and urged officials to place the entire city under lockdown. He warned that the latest Sydney outbreak could get out of control and reminded officials the devastating wave of COVID-19 in Melbourne 2020, which recorded more than 800 deaths. “What happened in Melbourne is they tried last year to get ahead slowly and were not able to get ahead of it and it resulted in deaths, that must not be allowed to happen in Sydney.”
The AMA highlighted that lockdowns, swift contract tracing, strict social distancing rules and a high community compliance have largely helped Australia quash prior outbreaks and keep its COVID-19 numbers relatively low, with just 30,400 cases and 910 deaths.
Gladys Berejiklian, New South Wales (NSW) Premier, told reporters that people who live or have worked in the four local government council areas in Sydney in the last two weeks have been ordered to stay at home except for urgent reasons.
“People are allowed to leave their homes only for essential work or education, medical reasons, grocery shopping or outdoor exercise,” she said. “We don’t want to see this situation linger for weeks, we would like to see this situation end sooner rather than later.”