| 27 September 2021, Monday |

COVID-19 cases surge in Sydney as police cordon deters protest

On Saturday, coronavirus cases in Sydney continued to rise as police fenced off the city’s central core, blocking a planned anti-lockdown rally.

In Sydney and its environs, 210 locally acquired cases of COVID-19 have been documented as part of a weeks-long severe lockdown to combat an epidemic of the extremely virulent Delta form. The latest figures increase the total number of patients in the outbreak to 3,190.

The lockdown, which is expected to remain until the end of August, sparked violent protests over the weekend, with demonstrators promising to take to the streets again on Saturday.

But the police closed train stations, banned taxis from dropping passengers off downtown and deployed 1,000 officers to set up check points and to disperse any groups.

Australian media reported that the rally’s organizers urged their followers on Saturday to avoid gathering and regroup on a later date.

Only 7% of respondents favor the demonstrations, according to a late-July poll conducted by the Sydney-based market research firm Utting Research. One of the most frequently mentioned reasons for Australia’s effectiveness in managing the epidemic has been adherence to public health regulations.

Despite experiencing surges in infections, particularly of the Delta strain, Australia has mostly kept the epidemic under control, with little over 34,000 cases and 924 deaths.

Australia’s vaccination rollout has been difficult, and the government announced on Friday that it will be months before the country’s borders reopen.

In Sydney, there are 198 people in the hospital, 53 of them in intensive care and 27 requiring ventilation, NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said. There was also one death reported, bringing the total number of deaths in the outbreak to 14.

On Saturday, parts of the neighboring state of Queensland went into a three-day lockdown after the state reported six new Delta-type coronavirus cases, putting a number of football, rugby, and other sporting events at jeopardy.

“We’ve learned from other states’ experience that the only way to fight the Delta strain is to move swiftly, be fast, and be powerful,” said the state’s Deputy Premier Steven Miles. “That is now the approach that has been decided upon at the national level.”