By Sonali Paul
MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Sydney will receive 50,000 more doses than Pfizer (NYSE 🙂 this week to combat the worsening COVID outbreak, Canberra said on Saturday, reversing the rejection of the Australian government and other states the day before to a request for more supplies.
Australia reported 176 new locally acquired COVID cases on Saturday, a third consecutive daily record with nearly all cases in the state of New South Wales, centered on the country’s largest city, Sydney.
Officials fear the outbreak could endanger the rest of the country.
However, defying a state order to stay home, 3,500 protesters, mostly without a mask, clashed with police in central Sydney, denouncing a month-long shutdown in what the state police minister said was the best case study of a super spread event since the start of the pandemic.
“You don’t have to be an epidemiologist to figure out that if it’s a super spread event, we can forget about lifting the restrictions next week,” New South Wales Police Minister David Elliott told reporters.
Police arrested 57 people and more under investigation, facing heavy fines and penalties.
There were protests in Melbourne and Adelaide, also under lockdown, and in Brisbane, where there are no restrictions. Police arrested six people in Melbourne, including one for assaulting an emergency worker, and fined dozens more for failing to comply with orders to stay 5 km from his home.
New South Wales Health Minister Brad Hazzard stressed the state’s urgent need for an additional supply of vaccines, adding that with so many people breaking orders to stay home, it was the only way to stop transmission. of the virus.
“Right now it’s like fighting a war with both arms behind your back,” he told reporters.
New South Wales reported 163 locally acquired COVID-19 cases on Saturday, up from 136 the day before, with 37 patients in intensive care.
Hazzard renewed a call for other states to forgo some Pfizer vaccines so that younger people in Sydney hotspots can be vaccinated, reminding neighboring states of the help New South Wales had provided during other crises.
“I can’t see the difference between fighting fires and fighting … floods and defeating this COVID virus which could actually, if it gets worse here in New South Wales, create massive problems for the entire country.” “he said.
Victoria State Health Minister Martin Foley said he had no replacement vaccines for New South Wales, but fully supported the federal government sending them additional doses from a national stockpile as they were clearly the most needed.
Of the new cases in NSW, at least 45 had spent time in the community while infectious, state health authorities said. That figure is being watched closely as the state weighs whether to extend a lockdown that will end on July 30.
One particular problem was the spread of the virus through family visits, Hazzard said. In one case, 18 infections were linked to a single gathering after a family tragedy, said NSW Health Director Jeremy McAnulty.
Victoria, which includes Melbourne, reported 12 locally acquired coronavirus cases on Saturday, compared with 14 the day before, in what Foley called a reassuring sign as the second-most populous state weighs whether to lift a strict lockdown from the Tuesday night.
South Australia, also locked up, reported a new case, linked to a known outbreak.
Despite its struggle with spikes in infections, mainly from the Delta variant, Australia has managed to keep its epidemic under control with a total of approximately 32,600 cases and 916 deaths.