Authorities in Sydney, Australia, warned on Monday that the city’s lockdown could be extended as the outbreak of the highly contagious Delta version of the coronavirus showed no signs of slowing.
Australia’s most populous city entered lockdown more than two weeks ago after an airport limousine driver contracted the virus, which then spread rapidly. On Monday, officials reported 112 new cases, the highest single-day total of the outbreak so far that has risen to 678 cases since the outbreak began in mid-June.
“We are at an absolutely critical stage of this disease,” said Gladys Berejiklian, the head of state for New South Wales, which includes Sydney.
Although Ms Berejiklian did not say whether the lockdown would be lifted as scheduled on Friday, she insisted it was up to reducing the number of people who were moving around when they were infectious.
“We all want to get out of this lockdown,” Ms Berejiklian said. “It is up to all of us to reduce the number of exposures in the community.”
Although Australia has been relatively successful in managing the virus through strict border closures and contact tracing, about 9 percent of the country’s population has been fully vaccinated, and the rapid spread of the delta variant remains a major concern. Studies show that vaccines against the delta variant remain effective.
On Monday, Sydney officials, citing the outbreak, said the AstraZeneca vaccine would be made available to people under the age of 40. it’s a break national health guidance, which recommends AstraZeneca shots only for those over 60 because of concerns about blood clotting. For young people, there is guidance for using the Pfizer vaccine.