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Asia Minute: COVID-19 Lockdowns Grow in Australia

Virus Outbreak Australia Sydney
Rick Rycroft/AP
A man wears a mask as he walks in Sydney, Wednesday, July 7, 2021. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

More than 80% of new COVID-19 cases in the United States are caused by the Delta variant, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s a similar situation in Australia where the spreading virus has led to another round of government action.

More than half the residents of Australia woke up this morning under some form of lockdown, that’s up by more than two million people since Friday.

The state of South Australia has joined New South Wales and Victoria in restricting movement.

Case numbers and deaths from COVID-19 remain relatively low in Australia, but the threat of rapid spread has authorities moving so quickly.

Health officials say a truck driver from Sydney made a delivery to a small town in the central west of the state earlier this week—infecting a worker at a factory—which then shut down production.

Contact tracing remains intense. In Melbourne, a soccer fan watching a game at a pub tested positive for the virus.

That single case led authorities to track down 450 “primary contacts.”

Government responses on restrictions and tracing have been fast, but Australia’s rollout of vaccines has been painfully slow.

It started in February; estimates are that slightly more than 11% of the population is fully vaccinated now.

The original plan was for full vaccination by October.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison now says he expects to reach that level by the end of the year.

The federal government is expecting one million doses of Pfizer vaccine to arrive in the country each week from now until the end of August.

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