Almost half of Australia’s population is under lockdown as health authorities in Victoria race to contain a new outbreak and NSW struggles to get its own under control.
Victoria recorded 19 new community cases of Covid-19 overnight, all linked to current clusters, bringing the state’s total active cases to 54.
Victorian health authorities have warned the public over the possibility of fleeting transmission, announcing over 165 new exposure sites.
Burnet Institute epidemiologist Professor Michael Toole remained optimistic for Melbourne to squash the latest spike, but warned the wide spread of the latest cases could mean an outbreak had already begun making its way across the city.
University of Melbourne leading epidemiologist Nancy Baxter said the MCG exposure site was worrying and could shape up to become another “a super spreader event”.
“Those highly infectious people were circulating in the community for a good five days,” she told the Herald Sun. “I am concerned by the pace of this outbreak – Delta moves fast. We would be very lucky to get out of lockdown on Tuesday … and Melbourne has not had much luck.”
Australian Medical Association (AMA) President Omar Khorshid told reporters on Friday afternoon that Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews did the “right thing” by sending the entire state into a five-day snap lockdown to halt the spread of the virus.
“We have seen in Sydney just how hard it is to get ahead of Delta, so we have to give them every possible chance. The lockdown is the right call in Victoria,” Khorshid said.
But in Sydney, where NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian once again flagged the possibility of tougher restrictions, he said action needs to be taken now or the city could face an “indefinite” lockdown.
“Take decisive action to address this crisis in Sydney and to give Sydney the best chance of getting out of this within weeks rather than months,” Khorshid said.
Pressure has been mounting on the NSW Government to introduce a stricter lockdown conditions and Berejiklian yesterday warned residents in Greater Sydney that they could face tougher restrictions “within hours”.
Dr Danielle McMullan, the NSW President of the Australian Medical Association, said NSW’s decision to keep non-essential shops open “sends the wrong message to the community” when it is meant to be in lockdown.
“We think it’s time the Government to tell them non-essential retail workers and the industry it shouldn’t be open at this time,” she told ABC News.
She suggested cutting the 10km radius you can travel to do exercise down to 5km would “signal” the importance of the message.
On Friday NSW recorded 97 new cases of Covid-19, with 29 infectious in the community before receiving their positive test on Thursday.
“That number of people being infectious in the community keeps going up,” Berejiklian said yesterday afternoon. “We really want to stress to everybody, please stay at home, follow the orders.
Modelling from the Burnet Institute has predicted Greater Sydney will still be seeing more than 40 cases a day until September if the current restrictions are kept in place.
The modelling shows introducing stricter Stage 4 restrictions, such as a 5km travel limit and defining what constitutes essential work, is the fastest way to get the outbreak under control.
An urgent alert has also been issued for 11 suburbs across Darwin after Covid-19 fragments were detected in sewage.
Northern Territory health authorities issued the warning on Friday night after samples taken from the Ludmilla Treatment Plant on July 14 returned positive traces.
This is where the outbreak stands across the country, as of Friday night: NSW recorded 97 cases bringing the total to 1026; Victoria’s new cases take the state’s total infections to 54; and Queensland recorded no new cases today, keeping the state’s total number of infections at four.
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