| 19 April 2024, Friday |

Sydney outbreak a ‘national emergency’ as cases spike

The fast-growing coronavirus outbreak in Sydney has been declared a “national emergency,” state leaders announced Friday, as the city reported yet another record number of new infections.

The state of New South Wales pleaded with Canberra to deploy more vaccines and resources immediately after a month-long lockdown failed to stop a Delta-variant outbreak.

Declaring the outbreak a national emergency might open the door to increased governmental assistance in containing the problem.

Gladys Berejiklian, the premier of New South Wales, said, “We have an obligation on behalf of the nation to limit the virus.” “There’s no denying that the numbers aren’t in the correct direction.”
Her state reported 136 additional cases on Friday, a new high for this outbreak, which now has 1,782 cases.

Berejiklian said the government must “refocus” its glacial vaccination deployment because the virus is “spreading everywhere” and half of the country’s 25 million inhabitants are currently in lockdown.

Due to shortages of Pfizer vaccines and concerns regarding the safety of the AstraZeneca vaccine, only 12 percent of Australians have been properly vaccinated.

“At the very least, we need more Pfizer first doses,” Berejiklian said, warning Sydney’s five million inhabitants that the limitations may last until October.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison, on the other hand, turned down a request to send vaccines to disaster-stricken areas.

Morrison insisted that his hometown would survive the crisis, saying, “We’re not going to disrupt the immunization campaign around the rest of the country.”

Non-essential personnel in certain regions of Sydney will now be prevented from leaving, tightening a lockdown that will almost certainly be extended formally next week.

Berejiklian stated, “It is very obvious that we will not be close to zero (cases) next Friday.” “We’ll have a better idea of what August, September, and October will look like next week.”

Morrison apologized on Thursday for the country’s sluggish vaccine rollout, conceding that targets were not met.

“I am in charge of the immunization program. “I also accept responsibility for the difficulties we’ve faced,” he added. “Obviously, we have some control over some things and we don’t have control over others.”

With Sydney cases spiralling, Victoria state premier Dan Andrews called for a “ring of steel” to be thrown up around the city, banning any travel in or out.

In New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that a travel bubble between the two countries would be suspended for at least eight weeks.

Australians will no longer have quarantine-free entry to New Zealand, and return flights will be arranged for New Zealanders in Australia.

“There are now multiple outbreaks, and in differing stages of containment, that have forced three states into lockdown,” Ardern said.

“The health risk to New Zealanders from these cases is increasing… now is the time for a suspension to ensure New Zealanders aren’t put at undue risk from Covid-19 and to ensure we retain our hard-won gains.”

Quarantine-free travel between New Zealand and Australia began in April after more than a year of closed borders and was hailed by tourism operators as a “savior for businesses.”

However, New Zealand has several times since halted the bubble with individual states and territories as outbreaks erupted in Australia.

  • Reuters