Sydney, Australia’s largest city, is in its sixth week of lockdown as it battles a surge in infections that has totaled nearly 3,500 cases since the first was detected in a limousine driver transporting an airline crew in abroad.
Officials in New South Wales, of which Sydney is the capital, have implored residents to stay home to avoid further waves and brought in the military to help police enforce compliance after some rules lock challenged.
Some 300 army personnel, who will be unarmed and under the command of the police, will go door to door to ensure that people who have tested positive are isolated in their homes.
After a steady rise in new cases, lockdown rules in southeast Queensland, which includes Brisbane, will be extended until Sunday as officials fear there may be more undetected cases in the community and urged residents to get tested. The restrictions were due to end Tuesday night.
Thirteen locally acquired cases were detected in the state of Queensland, up from nine the day before.
Australia is going through a cycle of intermittent lockdowns in several cities following the emergence of the fast-moving Delta strain and such restrictions are likely to persist until the country reaches higher vaccination coverage.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has promised that the closures will be “less likely” once the country vaccinates 70% of its population over the age of 16, which is now 19%. Morrison hopes to hit that mark by the end of the year.
Although Australia’s vaccination campaign has lagged behind in many other developed economies, it has done much better so far keeping its coronavirus numbers relatively low, with just under 34,400 cases and 924 deaths.