Australia’s second-largest city, Melbourne, is going into its sixth lockdown, with a state government leader blaming the nation’s slow Covid-19 vaccination rollout.
Melbourne joins Sydney and Brisbane, Australia’s most populous and third-most populous cities respectively, in locking down due to the spread of the Delta variant.
The state leader said Melbourne and surrounding Victoria state will lock down for seven weeks after eight new infections were detected in the city.
Victoria premier Daniel Andrews gave less than four hours’ notice that the state would lock down on Thursday evening.
He said his government had no other choice because only 20% of Australian adults had been fully vaccinated by Wednesday.
“To be really frank, we don’t have enough people that have been vaccinated and, therefore, this is the only option available to us,” Mr Andrews said.
“The time will come when we have many more options. But that isn’t now.”
Mr Andrews has accused neighbouring New South Wales state of taking too long to lock down Sydney after a limousine driver who became infected while transporting a US aircrew from Sydney Airport tested positive to the Delta variant on June 16.
New South Wales on Thursday reported its worst day since the Sydney lockdown began on June 26 with a record 262 new local infections and five deaths.
The state’s premier Gladys Berejiklian said four of the dead had not been vaccinated. One had a single dose of the two-shot AstraZeneca vaccine in late May.
Australian authorities have urged people in Sydney not to wait for the optimal 12 weeks before getting their second AstraZeneca dose.
“No one who has died has had both doses of vaccine. I cannot stress enough how it’s so important for everybody of all ages to come forward and get the vaccine,” Ms Berejiklian said.
AstraZeneca and Pfizer are the only vaccines available in Australia.
There have been 21 Covid-19 deaths reported in Sydney since the latest outbreak began. There have been 78 deaths confirmed in New South Wales since the pandemic began.
The government reported 262 locally acquired infections in the latest 24-hour period. Another six cases were diagnosed in hotel quarantine and are not considered threats to the community.
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