Australian states see resurgence of local COVID-19 transmissions

Published September 30, 2021, 11:39 AM

by Xinhua

SYDNEY, Australia — The states across Australia’s eastern coast, the country’s worst-hit areas in the current COVID-19 outbreak, saw a resurgence of local transmissions on Thursday, despite the governments’ ambitious reopening road map.

People take photos near the Sydney Opera House in Sydney, Australia, Aug. 20, 2021. (Xinhua/File)

The state of Victoria experienced a massive jump in COVID-19 cases with 1,438 new locally acquired cases recorded in the 24 hours to midnight Wednesday, up from 950 the previous day.

The record-breaking surge also pushed the state’s number of active cases to a record high of 11,018.

There is speculation that the uptick was linked to the large-scale protests by construction workers that began last week.

The state also recorded five additional deaths in the past 24 hours to midnight Wednesday.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said the more than 50 percent increase in cases is a result of people flouting health orders.

“Particularly given what we know from interviews over recent days, plenty of these cases were completely avoidable,” he told a press conference on Thursday.

He urged residents to “make the best decisions and not contribute to more viruses.”

“(Let’s) not infect people that we love, not make the work of our nurses harder,” said Andrews.

Epidemiologist Mary-Louise McLaws told ABC Radio Melbourne that the jump in cases is a reminder of just how quickly the virus can get out of hand.

“All it takes is a few people who are hyper-connected, socially or with work, to get infected and then spread it and this is what I think we’re seeing.”

Meanwhile, cases in the state of New South Wales (NSW) continued to plateau with 941 new locally acquired cases recorded in the 24 hours to 8:00 p.m. local time Wednesday.

A further six deaths were recorded in the same period, down from a record 15 deaths reported on Wednesday. The state’s death toll in the latest outbreak now stands at 337.

During Thursday’s press conference, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced that the return to school date would be brought forward one week from Oct. 25 to Oct. 18, for students in kindergarten, year 1 and year 12.

Only fully vaccinated teachers would be allowed to return to the classroom.

The decision was made in an NSW crisis cabinet meeting overnight in response to the state being scheduled to hit 70 percent vaccination rates earlier than expected.

The premier said this may also impact further opening up at 80-percent vaccination rates. “NSW Health is considering those things and if it’s safe to do so we’ll be able to resume some of those activities at 80 percent as opposed to Dec. 1.”

Furthermore, 11 areas across NSW have instituted stay-at-home orders including the City of Newcastle to Sydney’s north due to increased levels of local transmission.

Meanwhile, six areas in the state of Queensland, including the capital city of Brisbane, would enter into stage two restrictions from 4:00 p.m. local time Thursday.

The restrictions, coming in response to six locally acquired cases recorded on Thursday, include the limiting of gatherings to 30 people, restrictions for occupancy for cafes and restaurants, and restrictions to sporting events, funerals and weddings.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the authorities are not too concerned at this stage but the next 24 to 48 hours would be crucial to see if there is any seeding.

As of Wednesday, 77.3 percent of Australia’s over-16 population had received the first dose of the vaccine, and 53.4 percent were fully vaccinated.