Sydney’s streets were nearly empty on Saturday, at the start of a two-week lockdown aimed at containing the spread of the highly contagious delta form of COVID-19 in Australia’s largest city.
The state premier, from New South Wales, announced that the confinement, which was already in place since midnight Friday in four areas of the city, will take effect on Saturday from 6 pm (0800 GMT) to the entire city. Gladys Berejiklian.
More than 80 people have tested positive this week, all linked to a driver who drove airline crews from Sydney Airport to quarantine hotels.
“Alternative Delta is proving to be a particularly tough enemy,” state Health Secretary Brad Hazzard told reporters. “Whatever defensive measures are taken, the virus seems to know how to counterattack,” he added.
The discovery of these new cases came as a shock to Australia’s largest city of more than five million people, where life is almost back to normal.
“When you have an infectious variant like the delta variant, a three-day lockdown doesn’t work,” said Gladys Berejiklian, an advocate of the decision to impose a two-week shutdown.
“The transmissibility is at least twice that of the previous variables, so we need to prepare for a large number of potential cases in the coming days,” she added.
For two weeks, residents will only be able to go out to buy necessities, get medical care, exercise, go to school or work if they can’t work from home.
Anyone in the country who has also visited Sydney since Monday must self-isolate for fourteen days.
Australia, which has so far contained the spread of COVID-19 well on its territory, has since the start of the pandemic less than 30,000 cases of COVID-19 and less than a thousand deaths for 25 million inhabitants.