Tuesday, June 29, 2021

New lockdowns across 'Covid Zero' Australia

Parts of Australia under new Covid lockdown after cases of Delta variant | The Guardian - Nino Bucci & Elias Visontay:

28 Jun 28, 2021 - "Australia is grappling with several outbreaks of the highly contagious Delta variant of coronavirus, with a wave of restrictions rolling across the country and plunging some cities into lockdown for the first time since the pandemic began. Residents of every state and territory in the country – except the island state of Tasmania – are again living under restrictions ranging from full-blown lockdowns in Sydney, Darwin and Perth, to mask mandates in some indoor settings in Adelaide and Canberra....

"On Monday the prime minister, Scott Morrison, met state and territory leaders and agreed on a raft of new measures ... including even more stringent quarantine rules, as well as a no-fault indemnity scheme for all local doctors administering Covid vaccines. The scheme in effect opens the door for Australians under 40 to now receive the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine if they request it.... Australians under 40 have so far been shut out from the Covid vaccine rollout as a result of concerns over blood clotting and a shortage of vaccines besides locally produced AstraZeneca jabs, in which the government has invested heavily....

"The Northern Territory chief minister, Michael Gunner, ... decided to extend Darwin’s first lockdown for a further three days to deal with an outbreak of two cases.... In South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory, restrictions were introduced despite neither jurisdiction having recorded a case. In the latter, measures also had to be announced to limit panic-buying of household items such as toilet paper."
Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2021/jun/28/parts-of-australia-under-new-lockdown-after-cases-of-delta-variant-covid 

Australia Covid lockdowns spread amid confusion over vaccine advice | The Guardian - Helen Sullivan:

June 29, 2021 - "Frustration is mounting in Australia over low vaccination rates and changing advice on the AstraZeneca jab after outbreaks of the highly contagious Delta variant sent more parts of the country into lockdown. The outbreaks have grown to about 150 cases, and have forced lockdowns in four major cities and renewed restrictions in several others. Queensland imposed a snap three-day lockdown in its capital, Brisbane, and some neighbouring regions from Tuesday evening. Perth, the capital of Western Australia, began a four-day lockdown on Tuesday, joining Sydney and Darwin.... 

"Australia closed its borders in March 2020 and has strict two-week hotel quarantine requirements for international arrivals. Melbourne, in Victoria, endured one of the world’s strictest, longest lockdowns in 2020. But with less than 5% of the population fully vaccinated, Australia is lagging far behind almost every other developed country.... On Monday night, the prime minister, Scott Morrison, widened the guidance on the AstraZeneca vaccine.... However, the president of the Australian Medical Association, Dr Omar Khorshid, said on Tuesday said he ... did not endorse the prime minister’s announcement.... 

"[M]ore than 20 million Australians, or about 80% of the population, faced lockdown and restrictions – for Darwin, the first lockdown since the pandemic began."
Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2021/jun/29/australia-covid-lockdowns-spread-amid-confusion-over-vaccine-advice

As the Delta variant spreads, Australian experts say maintaining 'COVID zero' means lockdowns until vaccination rate improves | ABC (Australian Broadcasting Co.) - Nick Sas & Michael Slezak:

June 28, 2021 - "UNSW epidemiologist Mary-Louise McLaws ... a World Health Organization advisor, is one of a multitude of infectious disease experts imploring governments to act strong and act fast with the Delta variant.... As Australia remains committed to COVID-zero, experts say outbreaks — and the hard-nosed government response — look set to continue until at least the latter half of the year.... 

"According to Professor McLaws, with the much more transmissible variant and low vaccination rates, there was no possibility of easing lockdowns while there were any cases in a city.... 'With Delta, you’ve got to go for zero,' she said. 'I fully appreciate that lockdowns are horrible, they are the least acceptable approach to control.' But she said there were few other options....

"Catherine Bennett, the head of epidemiology at Deakin University, told ABC Radio that Australia was increasingly reaching the point where maintaining COVID zero was 'going to be difficult'."
Read more: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-06-29/australias-new-covid-phase-as-delta-variant-spreads/100249444

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