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Asia Minute: Sydney’s Latest COVID-19 Lockdown

Virus Outbreak Australia
Mark Baker/AP
Staff prepare to take COVID-19 tests at a testing station in Nelson Bay, Australia, Monday, June 28, 2021. Australia was battling to contain several COVID-19 clusters around the country on Monday in what some experts have described as the nation’s most dangerous stage of the pandemic since the earliest days. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)

More than 1 million people in greater Sydney are in the midst of a lockdown, facing a series of restrictions related to the spread of COVID-19—at least through the end of the week.

The affected area stretches from the city’s central business district to its eastern suburbs—including the famous Bondi Beach where this current cluster began a little more than a week ago.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports it started when an unvaccinated limousine driver picked up an international flight crew and became infected with the Delta variant of the virus.

Within a week, there were 65 cases—the virus had spread to the central business district—and led to the most significant rise in transmission in Sydney since December.

And that sparked the lockdown.

Residents in the affected areas are not allowed to travel out of the city—and are also under stay-at-home orders except for food shopping, medical appointments, exercise or essential work.

Among those testing positive last week was the Agriculture Minister of the state of New South Wales—and the state Health Minister went into isolation because of possible contact with a positive case.

Australia has had more than 30,000 cases and more than 900 deaths since the pandemic began—much better results than many other locations.

Vaccinations are continuing across the country but the pace has been relatively slow.

According to the group Our World Data, fewer than 5% of Australia’s residents have been vaccinated—and about a quarter of the population has received a first dose.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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