New South Wales (NSW) Premier Gladys Berejiklian has said that Sydney and surrounds cannot “live reasonably” with the Delta strain of the CCP virus.
This has been the largest number of daily cases recorded since the first wave last year, with most of the cases being transmitted within households. The state has been recording over a dozen new cases every day for several days now, with the new cases taking infection numbers to almost 400 since June 16.
Of particular concern for NSW Health were the numbers of people who had been in the community while in their infectious period.
Berejiklian implied that the more transmissible Delta variant was making the state’s “bold and courageous” approach difficult to continue.
She indicated that Sydney and surrounds will likely remain in lockdown until the current outbreak is significantly curtailed and a significant proportion of the population was vaccinated.
“This new variant is a game changer—there isn’t anywhere on the planet that has managed to live with this variant, the Delta virus, without having a proportion of the population vaccinated,” the premier said. “That is why it is so important for us to make sure that people follow the health advice.”
Eleven people are in intensive care in NSW, with three ventilated.
She also warned residents in the Sydney suburbs of Liverpool, Fairfield and Canterbury-Bankstown to limit their movements and mingling in order to avoid breaching health orders, or else face tighter restrictions. This comes after multiple infractions of the social distancing rules were discovered in the past week.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison, himself a Sydney resident, has backed Berejiklian’s call for Sydneysiders to abide by the measures.
Speaking from the prime ministerial residence, Kirribilli House, which is located in Sydney, he said he understood the frustrations caused by the lockdown and urged people to work with the state government to squash the outbreak.
“We are having issues with compliance when it comes to casual contact between households,” he told reporters. “The virus doesn’t move itself, people move it.”
“You just can’t go from one house to the next,” he said.
Morrison also echoed Berejiklian’s sentiments on the Delta strain, stating that if Australia tried to open up and live with Delta, the country would face a reality like that in India or Indonesia.
He also noted that despite vaccinations, COVID-19 cases and death rates in other countries still remained high.
“People are dying in Indonesia, people still dying in the United Kingdom, people are still dying in the United States,” he said. “I mean there were more cases yesterday in the United Kingdom than we have had in total in the last 18 months.”
The prime minister also announced that the federal government would be providing 300,000 extra AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccinations to those areas affected in Sydney and urged people to go out and get vaccinated.
It is estimated that currently around nine percent of the NSW population is fully vaccinated.
He also announced that those affected by the outbreak will be eligible for financial aid and that the federal government will expand its hot spot payment program by waiving the liquid asset test for COVID-19 support payments of $325 and $500.
The payment can be accessed by contacting 180 22 66.
Business NSW estimated the lockdown will cost the state $1 billion a week. The state government will spend at least $1.4 billion on a small business package, with extended support forthcoming.
AAP contributed to this article.