More than five million Sydney residents will spend at least another week in coronavirus lockdown, Australian authorities said on Wednesday, after detecting another 27 new cases.
Stay-at-home orders have already been in place in the country’s biggest city for two weeks, as authorities try to curb an outbreak of the highly contagious Delta variant.
According to state officials, progress had been made, but light-touch measures – allowing residents to leave home for work, exercise and shopping – needed to continue.
“This Delta strain is a game changer, it’s extremely transmissible,” said New South Wales premier Gladys Berejiklian, saying it must be eradicated from the community.
“We don’t want to be in a position where we are constantly having to move between lockdown, no lockdown, lockdown, no lockdown.”
Berejiklian said an extension – which includes school closures – was “best chance of making sure this is the only lockdown we have until the vast majority of our citizens are vaccinated.”
The lockdown is now expected to end on Friday 16 July.
Australia’s “Covid zero” approach has seen a series of snap lockdowns in cities across the country and its international borders closed fort eh last 15 months.
The strategy has allowed Australians to live relatively normally throughout the pandemic, while avoiding the high death tolls seen around the world.
Since the pandemic began, Australia has detected just over 30,000 virus cases and reported 910 deaths.