© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A lone passenger wearing a protective mask walks from a deserted train platform on Flinders Street during morning commute hours on the first day of a lockdown as the state of Victoria seeks to curb the spread of a coronavirus disease (VOC
By Renju Jose and Colin Packham
SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australian authorities on Monday expanded a COVID-19 shutdown to the rural city of Tamworth on fears that the coronavirus has spread from the city of Sydney to the countryside, transmitted by infected people who violated a ban. Travel.
The Prime Minister of the state of New South Wales, Gladys Berejiklian, announced the closure of the agricultural town, 414 km (257 miles) northwest of Sydney, after people known to have COVID-19 traveled there.
“As a precaution, health experts have recommended that we close Tamworth for a week,” Berejiklian told reporters in Sydney.
Authorities also urged people in the Byron Bay area to get tested after a man traveled from Sydney, the epicenter of the state’s outbreak, to the tourist spot about 767 km to the north.
New South Wales reported 283 locally acquired COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, up from 262 cases the day before.
The state has struggled to contain an increase in the highly infectious Delta variant despite the closure of Sydney now in its seventh week.
Neighboring Victoria state said it would ease restrictions after reporting 11 new COVID-19 cases, the same as the day before.
Most of the new cases in Victoria spent time in the community while infectious, but state Prime Minister Daniel Andrews said the closure of areas outside the state capital of Melbourne would be lifted later on Monday.
Melbourne would remain closed, for the sixth time since the pandemic began, until at least August 12.
In Brisbane, the capital of Queensland state, authorities reported four new local cases on Monday, the first day after the city pulled out of stay-at-home restrictions.
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Prime Minister Scott Morrison is under fire for a slow launch of the vaccine, with only 22% of Australians over the age of 16 fully vaccinated.
An Australian newspaper opinion poll showed that his public approval rating had reached its lowest level since the pandemic began.
Morrison enjoyed high marks early last year after Australia managed to keep its pandemic numbers relatively low. It has reported around 36,250 cases and 939 deaths, including a woman in her 90s whose death in Sydney was reported on Monday.
Morrison has said that all Australians over the age of 16 will be offered a vaccine before the end of the year, and prospects for doing so increased on Monday when the pharmaceutical regulator gave tentative approval for the vaccination. Modern (NASDAQ 🙂 shot.
Morrison said 10 million doses of the vaccine would arrive this year, with the first million expected in September.
Australia has ordered 25 million doses of the Moderna vaccine.
The prolonged shutdown of Sydney, Australia’s most populous city, would push the country’s economy into negative growth of A $ 2 trillion ($ 1.5 trillion) this quarter, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said last month.
Neighboring New Zealand, which has not seen a community case since February, said on Monday that 11 of the 21 crew members of a container ship, the Rio De La Plata, off the north coast, had tested positive for COVID-19.
As a precautionary measure, 94 dockworkers who spent time on the ship while it was in port are being contacted and withdrew until negative test results are returned.
($ 1 = 1,3602 Australian dollars)