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Asia Minute: 40% of Australian Residents Under Lockdown

Coronavirus Outbreak Sydney Australia
Rick Rycroft/AP
A woman crosses a normally busy street in Sydney, Wednesday, July 7, 2021. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

Australia is wrestling with new outbreaks of the coronavirus. Restrictions are now in place in the country’s two largest cities, more than 500 miles apart.

That means about 40% of Australia’s population woke up Friday morning under lockdown.

Sydney residents have been there since the end of June and they’ll stay under restrictions for at least another two weeks.

The premier of the state of New South Wales, where Sydney is located, said late this week she may extend that further if community spread is not under control by the end of the month.

Further south in the state of Victoria, residents have started a shorter lockdown—now scheduled to last until Tuesday.

That includes the city of Melbourne which up to now had avoided the latest outbreak that struck New South Wales.

But health officials say a team of furniture movers from Sydney traveled to Melbourne, bringing the virus along with their latest shipment.

Australia has continued to use a system of lockdowns and intense contact tracing to control the virus—but with the spread of the Delta variant, that approach is unraveling, proving less successful than earlier in the pandemic.

Vaccinations have been slow and estimates vary on how many people have gotten their shots.

Australia’s government says nearly 4.2 million doses have been administered, meaning about 17% of the population has gotten at least one shot.

The figure for those fully vaccinated is a rougher estimate, but far lower than most other industrialized countries.

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