SYDNEY, July 6 (Reuters) – The Prime Minister of Australia for New South Wales (NSW) said on Tuesday she intended to decide within the next 24 hours whether to extend a COVID-19 lockdown in Sydney which is due to end on Friday as new infections fell in the country’s most populous state.
As of Tuesday, only 18 new locally acquired COVID-19 cases were detected in New South Wales, half the number the day before. But Prime Minister Gladys Berejiklian said the move would also take into account her administration’s determination to make the current lockdown on the city of five million people the last, as it aims to step up vaccinations.
“This will be factored into our decision as to whether this (the two week lockdown) will end on Friday or whether we will continue for longer,” Berejiklian told reporters. “I hope to be able to communicate to the community tomorrow what next week looks like.”
Sydney entered a hard lockdown on June 26 to reverse the latest outbreak – an outbreak of the Delta variant of COVID-19 – but officials were frustrated after discovering new infections linked to illegal gatherings and people breaking the rules social distancing, increasing the prospects of an extension.
Of Tuesday’s cases, 16 were either in isolation during or part of their infectious period. Two cases spent time in the community while they were contagious.
As Sydney battles its worst COVID-19 outbreak in 2021, the total number of infections during the outbreak has exceeded 330 since the first case was detected almost three weeks ago in a limousine driver who was carrying crew members of an airline abroad.
Rapid contact tracing, lockdowns, strict social distancing rules and high community compliance have kept Australia’s COVID-19 count much lower among developed economies, with just over 30,800 cases and 910 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
Report by Renju José; Editing by Christian Schmollinger and Kenneth Maxwell
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