Australia’s Daily COVID-19 Cases Near 2,000 As Delta Gains Ground


Australia’s daily COVID-19 cases topped 1,900 for the first time in the pandemic on Friday as an outbreak fueled by the highly infectious Delta variant continued to gain ground in the lockdown cities of Sydney and Melbourne.

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Australia’s daily COVID-19 cases topped 1,900 for the first time in the pandemic on Friday as an outbreak fueled by the highly infectious Delta variant continued to gain ground in the lockdown cities of Sydney and Melbourne.

Australia has a third wave of infections under control with the Delta outbreak, forcing officials to abandon their COVID-zero strategy in favor of suppressing the virus.

They now want to start easing the tight restrictions after reaching a higher proportion of the population with double-dose vaccinations.

New South Wales (NSW), the epicenter of the country’s worst outbreak, reported 1,542 new local cases daily, surpassing the previous week’s high of 1,533. Nine new deaths were recorded.

“So far, this is what was predicted,” NSW Prime Minister Gladys Berejiklian told a media briefing in Sydney, the state capital, where cases are expected to peak in the next week.

Berejiklian said the daily COVID-19 media briefing will be cleared from Monday and updates will be detailed in an online video, an allegation previously used when case numbers were low.

Rising cases in Sydney have put the burden on ambulance staff, with the number of COVID-19 patients being transported doubling to nearly 6,000 in the past two weeks, officials said. Around 1,156 people are hospitalized in the state, 207 of them in intensive care, 89 of whom require ventilation.

Although the cases continue near record levels, NSW authorities said Thursday that Sydney’s businesses could reopen once 70 percent of the state’s adult population is fully vaccinated, a goal expected to be met by mid-October. To date, 76 percent of people over 16 in the state have received at least one dose, while 44 percent have been fully vaccinated.

The state of Victoria recorded 334 new cases, the largest increase this year and one death. Some restrictions in the capital, Melbourne, will be eased once 70 percent of the adult population has received at least one vaccine dose, which is expected around September 23.

A four-step national reopening plan unveiled by the federal government in July aims to ease several tough restrictions once the country hits a vaccination target of 70 to 80 percent from its current 40 percent. However, some virus-free states have indicated that they could potentially delay easing interstate travel restrictions and other restrictions.

Australia’s total infection numbers are around 70,000 cases, including 1,076 deaths. Higher vaccinations have kept the delta outbreak death rate at 0.41 percent, data shows among previous outbreaks.

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