Australia reported its first locally contracted Covid-19 death of the year on Sunday, along with a record 2021 of 77 new cases of the virus in the state of New South Wales, which is battling an outbreak of the highly contagious delta type.
State Premier Gladys Berejiklian said numbers in and around Sydney, the country’s largest city, which is already under heavy lockdown, were expected to rise.
«I would be shocked if it was less than 100 this time tomorrow, from additional new cases,» Berejiklian said in a televised briefing.
On Saturday, there were 50 cases, the previous record for 2021. The number of recent outbreaks was 566.
Among Sunday’s cases, 33 were people who spent time in the community while infected, raising the possibility of a three-week lockdown extension for more than 5 million people in Sydney and surrounding areas.
«Given how far we’ve come, and given that the lockdown was supposed to be lifted on Friday, everyone could say it’s very unlikely at this point,» Berejiklian said.
Neighboring Victoria, which on Sunday reported its 11th consecutive day without new infections, said it was closing its borders with New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory to prevent the spread of the virus.
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In Sydney, there are 52 hospitalized cases, or about one in 10 people infected in the current outbreak. Fifteen people are in intensive care, and five of them need ventilation. The death, the first locally contracted case in the country since December, involved a woman in her 90s.
Under 35 years old
Australia has fared far better than many other developed countries in keeping Covid-19 numbers relatively low, with just over 31,000 cases since the start of the pandemic and 911 deaths.
However, rollout of vaccination has been slow due to supply constraints and changing medical advice regarding AstraZeneca’s stents.
Vaccinations are now only available to people over the age of 40 and groups at risk either because of their health or exposure to the virus at work. Health authorities said 11 of those admitted to hospital in Sydney, under 35 and more than three-quarters of patients received no doses.
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