What started as a two-week lockdown in Sydney three weeks ago has expanded to cover more than half of Australia's 25 million people as of Tuesday as a third state adopted the strict anti-COVID measures as the intense 'delta'-induced paranoia continued to swell.
South Australia has ordered a 'snap lockdown' of (at least) seven days, joining neighboring Victoria and New South Wales, Reuters reports.
Even though Australia's daily new COVID cases and deaths are well below other developed nations, authorities started again with the lockdowns after its 'drawbridge' strategy failed to keep COVID cases at the country's target level of '0'. Now, they're desperately trying to vaccinate as many Australians as possible during the coming weeks. The lockdown in South Australia started at 1800 on Tuesday.
Premier Steven Marshall defended his decision to impose the lockdown measures, saying “we hate to put these restrictions in place, but we have just one chance to get this right". The alternative, he suggested, would be a lengthier freeze. But as the lockdowns spread, the Australian people have grown increasingly irritated, and the politicians are taking notice as their polling numbers plummet.
Under the rules of the new lockdown, all South Australian residents are required to remain at home unless they are essential workers or need to purchase groceries or other necessities, or attend medical appointments. Individuals are allowed outside to exercise for a maximum of 90 minutes and within a 2.5km (1.5 mile) radius of their home. Schools will be closed and students will transition to online learning.
New restrictions will come into effect 6pm Tue 20 July 2021.— SA Health (@SAHealth) July 20, 2021
5 essential reasons to leave your home:
▪ Undertake essential work
▪ Shop for essential goods & services
▪ Medical reasons (inc vaccination & testing)
▪ Care & caregiving
▪ Exercise (with people in same household) pic.twitter.com/wbCkhznVoj
More information, including what is essential work, goods and services will be made available soon at https://t.co/vMi4Ldn7ci— SA Health (@SAHealth) July 20, 2021
By playing our part now, we can stop the spread of COVID-19 in South Australia.
A list of essential workers is available at https://t.co/1LTpbheLhP— SA Health (@SAHealth) July 20, 2021
The decision to impose a strict snap lockdown comes after five coronavirus cases were reported, with the fifth being an isolated incident from the other four cases.
All of the cases have been confirmed to be caused by the Delta variant, which is 60% more transmissible than most other variants, with an R0 of 8, putting it on par with measles, according to certain public health authorities.
Authorities also warned that hospitalizations have risen alarmingly. Authorities say people with COVID-19 have been hospitalized with COVID in the state, 27 of them in intensive care and 11 on ventilators. The state's five deaths in the latest outbreak take the national toll to 915, with a tally of just over 32,000 infections.
"We are seeing more hospitalizations, more admissions to ICU, more people on ventilators - we have to stop the spread of COVID," Kerry Chant, the state's chief health officer, said in Sydney, referring to intensive care units. Ninety-five people with COVID-19 have been hospitalized in Sydney, 27 of them in intensive care and 11 on ventilators. The state's five deaths in the latest outbreak take the national toll to 915, with a tally of just over 32,000 infections.
As of Tuesday, some 13MM Australians, over half of the country’s population, are under a stay-at-home mandate. Neighboring Victoria has extended its lockdown until July 27. It was intended to last only five days when it was first implemented, yet new cases continue to be found.
Still, Australia's COVID numbers are envious even considering it's tiny size. Since early 2020, the country has recorded just over 32K cases and less than 1,000 lives lost to COVID.