Sydney reported a record-matching number of new local cases of COVID-19, while infections also rose in the state of Queensland, a day after its most-populous region went into lockdown.
There were 239 cases in Sydney in the 24 hours to 8pm on Saturday, equal to the tally set three days earlier and the most since the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 began sweeping through the nation’s largest city in June.
New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said there were some signs that the virus is mostly being contained to parts of Sydney’s southwest, where the strictest curbs are in place.
While most residents have followed lockdown rules, frustrations have boiled over on several occasions.
More than 1,300 police officers were deployed in Sydney on Saturday to deter any anti-lockdown demonstrators after a violent protests a week earlier. There were no significant disturbances this weekend.
Sydney’s lockdown has been extended three times and there is a risk it might not be lifted as scheduled on Aug. 28, given Delta’s continued spread and because Australia’s vaccination program has lagged behind many other major economies.
Police said that unarmed defense forces personnel would be working with them in Sydney to help with food deliveries, welfare home checks and compliance checks for stay-at-home and self-isolation orders.
There were nine new locally acquired cases in Queensland, which on Saturday imposed a snap three-day lockdown in parts of its southeast, Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young told a briefing.
A new cluster in Queensland’s capital, Brisbane, highlights the country’s vulnerability to fresh outbreaks, with only enough doses administered to cover 23 percent of the population, Bloomberg’s vaccine tracker showed.
Australia’s vaccine program, which has been heavily dependent on doses from AstraZeneca, has suffered from hesitancy among many people concerned about the risk of blood clots. There is now an increasing effort to boost supplies of Pfizer-BioNTech shots.
The federal government is also in talks to secure COVID-19 therapy medicines that can reduce the severity of infections, the Sunday Telegraph reported, without saying where it obtained the information.
Victoria state, the epicenter of previous outbreak in Melbourne, reported four new local cases. In New Zealand, there were no new cases in the community, health authorities said.
With YouTube videos “debunking” allegations of human rights abuses and diatribes on Western “conspiracies” against China, an unlikely set of foreigners is loudly defending Beijing against international critics. They are teachers and business owners from the UK, Colombia and Singapore, a collage of YouTubers garnering fame for their video takedowns of what they say are unfair accusations against Beijing. Videos alternate between praise of China’s rapid development and rebuttals of negative foreign reports about the country. Experts say they are being deployed as a weapon in the information war against China’s critics, with hundreds of videos reaching millions of viewers. “I am trying to
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