Sydney, Australia, on Saturday night began a two-week lockdown amid a surge in cases of the COVID-19 highly contagious Delta variant. Stay-at-home orders were issued for Greater Sydney, the Central Coast, the Blue Mountains and Wollongong. “Everyone in Greater Sydney must stay at home unless it is for an essential reason,” New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said in a statement. Residents are only permitted to leave their homes for essential work, education, to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, to seek medical care, outdoor exercise and to shop for food or other essential items. At least 29 new COVID-19 cases were reported in the 24 hours prior to the lockdown taking effect, according to the state’s ministry of health. State Health Minister Brad Hazzard described the Delta variant – which first emerged in India – as a “very formidable foe”. “No matter what defensive steps we’re taking at the moment, the virus seems to understand how to counter-attack,” he said.
More than a million people in downtown Sydney and the city’s eastern suburbs were already under lockdown due to the outbreak. Authorities try to locate workers from a remote gold mine linked to five Covid-19 cases thought to be of the highly infectious Delta strain. 211 workers flew into Darwin from the Granites Mine in central Australia. About 750 workers are in isolation on site. Police have said they will use number plate recognition technology to monitor vehicles and ensure people have not strayed out of their lockdown zone. Australia has consistently maintained very low rates of Covid transmission and this is the first lockdown in Sydney since December.