For more, we can cross to Sydney and speak to our correspondent, Rochelle Harrison. Plus, Rochelle, I understand that state authorities were hesitant to impose this lockdown.
Indeed, they were. And for the first time in over 15 months since the beginning of the pandemic, everyone across greater Sydney finds themselves in lockdown once again. Some 6,000,000 residents are affected by the stay-at-home orders, which are in place for the next two weeks. Now, it’s no doubt a shock to the system. For many, as we here in Sydney have gone long periods without any new COVID cases in the community. The cluster has grown to over 80 locally acquired cases in just over a week.
And that prompted authorities to announce a partial lockdown of Sydney yesterday on Friday, which was affecting four local government areas. But after a crisis cabinet meeting this Saturday afternoon with just a few hours notice, the state government said it had no choice but to take this tougher Act. And that’s because the Delta variant is more contagious, more dangerous, and spreading much faster than ever before.
Michelle, Australia was widely praised in the early days of the pandemic. But after this outbreak in Sydney and another recent one in Melbourne, are things they’re starting to change?
Well, they might be. Alison, One year ago, Australia was basking in the global admiration concerning our response to the virus. It was among a handful of countries that were able to, for the most part, get covered under control. But now, with the country’s vaccine rollout moving at a snail’s pace, Australia is actually lagging behind all OECD countries when it comes to vaccine coverage. Experts say that’s due to a combination of vaccines, hesitancy complacency confusing government messaging and, of course, vaccine supply. But these outbreaks have been perhaps a sort of wake-up call to those people who before were hesitating about the vaccine now to go out and get the job.
And then there are the issues that Australia has had with the virus leaking from hotel quarantine. Now, after months and months of resistance, it looks like Cambra is finally considering purpose-built quarantine facilities away from heavily populated areas, with talk of facilities to be built in the States of Queensland, Victoria, and Western Australia. Now, if they do go ahead, it will be a major shift for the federal government. But some are saying this should have happened already. This should have happened a long time ago. This should have happened a year ago.