Australia’s coronavirus cases rose again on Thursday, despite a weeks-long lockdown, with authorities warning that the number of infections would rise more and negatively impact the economy as the country battles to contain the highly contagious Delta strain.
New South Wales (NSW), Australia’s most populous state, reported 124 new cases of COVID-19, up from 110 a day earlier, a record for this year and the highest in 16 months. Most infections were reported in the capital Sydney, which is in the fourth week of a lockdown.
The state of Victoria, which introduced a second week of home orders, registered 26 new cases, up from 22.
“We expect the number of cases to continue to rise before they start to decline and we need to brace ourselves for that,” said Gladys Berejiklian, NSW Prime Minister.
Most worrisome is the number of people walking in the community before being diagnosed, which was 48 in NSW on Wednesday, state health authorities say.
Sydney, home to one-fifth of Australia’s 25 million residents, was set to leave lockdown on July 30, but Berejiklian has said the number of infections in the community should first be close to zero.
She called on people to get vaccinated.
“Until we have fully vaccinated enough of our population, we will live with some degree of disability and that will depend on how quickly we can overcome the severity of the current outbreak,” she said.
“The vaccine is the key to our freedom.”
The neighboring state of Queensland closed its border to NSW, citing the outbreak, shutting down one of the most traveled routes in the country.
In Victoria, south of NSW, all 26 new cases were linked to known transmission chains and 24 were quarantined during their infectious period, state authorities said.
The state of South Australia reported two new cases as officials monitor two “superspread events” – gatherings at a winery and Greek restaurant in the capital Adelaide.
With swathes of businesses closed in the country’s two largest cities, Australia’s A$2 trillion ($1.5 trillion) economy could take a major hit from the latest lockdowns that have sent more than half of the population to forced in.
The economy had surged to pre-pandemic levels in the early months of this year https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/australia-gdp-climbs-18-q1-back-pre-pandemic-time- 2021-06-02 thanks to low COVID-19 cases.
But the latest lockdowns could cost the national economy about A$300 million ($220 million) a day, Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg estimated.
“It’s going to hit the economy. We’ll see that in future jobs data and in GDP growth rates,” Frydenberg told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.
The country’s main airline, Qantas Airways, said in a memo to staff that domestic capacity had fallen below 40% of pre-COVID levels and staff could be laid off unpaid if the lockdowns are extended for “longer periods”. periods” would continue.
Australia has outperformed many other developed economies in keeping infection rates relatively low, with about 32,200 cases and 915 deaths. But with a sputtering immunization campaign, with only 11% of the population fully vaccinated, it relied on lockdowns and border closures to contain the outbreak.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NewsMadura staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.)