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COVID-19 outbreaks expand in Australia

COVID-19 outbreaks expand in Australia

In quickly evolving developments over the weekend, COVID-19 cases were detected in more Australian states, with capitals of three of the country’s six states now in lockdown to curb the spread.

Elsewhere, parts of Southeast Asia continue to battle fresh surges, with Indonesia reporting a new single-day high.

Australia battles threat from Delta variant

Last week, a cluster of cases in Sydney led to a lockdown for the downtown area and some of its suburbs. In new developments, health officials in Western Australia have been tracking a cluster in the Perth area tied to a traveler who had returned from Sydney and tested positive for the more transmissible Delta (B1617.2) variant, according to Australia’s ABC News.

In response, Western Australia officials ordered a 4-day circuit breaker lockdown for the city of Perth, as well as the Peel region.

Meanwhile, Australia’s Northern Territory is grappling with a growing COVID-19 cluster linked to a gold mine, with seven cases reported so far, according to a separate ABC News report. One of the miners flew to Darwin, where he was reported to be infectious in the community for a day and a half. Officials said he likely contracted the virus while staying at a quarantine hotel in Brisbane.

The events have triggered extensive contact tracing in Darwin and a lockdown, which is expected to last at least 3 more days.

Some of the infected miners flew to Queensland and New South Wales states, sparking new worries about virus spread to those locations.

Meanwhile, the outbreak in Sydney has risen to 128 cases, according to the BBC.

About 80% of Australia’s population is in lockdown or under other COVID-19 restrictions, according to Reuters. Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison met today with state and territory leaders to discuss the latest situation and extra threat from the Delta variant, and they agreed that long-term care workers should be required to have a first vaccine dose by September and that quarantine facility workers must be tested and vaccinated.

Australia’s vaccination campaign has been slowed by evolving recommendations related concerns about rare blood clots in AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine recipients.

Rises in some Southeast Asia nations

Indonesia’s COVID-19 surge worsened, with the health ministry reporting 21,342 new cases yesterday, marking a single-day high for the country, according to Xinhua News. All provinces are reporting cases, though about 45% of the most recent infections were from Jakarta.

Since the start of the pandemic, health officials have feared virus spread in Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populous country.

Elsewhere, Thailand tightened its restrictions in Bangkok and other hot spots in an effort to stem its worst surge yet, according to Reuters. More clusters have been reported at construction worker housing sites, an ongoing problem that recently led to construction sites being shut down in some areas, with worker camps sealed off.

More global headlines

  • South Africa announced new restrictions to curb its surge, including a ban on gatherings and a night curfew, as cases near the peak of the country’s second wave and the Delta variant becomes dominant, according to Reuters.
  • The United States has shipped 1.5 million Moderna COVID-19 vaccine doses to Honduras as part of its COVAX donation, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said yesterday on Twitter.
  • The global total is at 181,076,464 cases, with at least 3,992,721 deaths, according to the New York Times

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