Canberra enters snap lockdown as Sydney tightens COVID curbs
International desk || shiningbd
Australia’s capital Canberra has announced a snap one-week lockdown after reporting its first locally acquired case of COVID-19 in more than a year.
The restrictions, which will take effect on Thursday evening, come as Australia battles to control the highly infectious Delta strain of the coronavirus. More than 10 million people in the country’s biggest cities, Melbourne and Sydney, are already under hard lockdowns.
Andrew Barr, the chief minister of the Australian Capital Territory, which encompasses Canberra, said the source of the positive case in the city was not yet clear.
“This is the most serious public health risk we have faced in the territory this year,” he told reporters. “It is why we are introducing a strict lockdown in response.”
Under the restrictions, face masks must be worn by everyone aged 12 and over outside their homes and people can only leave their homes for essential reasons, including shopping, healthcare and exercise.
Non-essential businesses must also close for the duration of the lockdown.
In Sydney, the government of the state of New South Wales (NSW) said it might call in more military personnel to ensure compliance with COVID-19 restrictions as daily cases remained at record highs despite seven weeks of lockdown.
“We are making sure that we do not leave any stone unturned in relation to extra (military) resources,” NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said at a news conference in Sydney, the state capital and Australia’s biggest city.
A spokesperson for Defence Minister Peter Dutton told the Reuters news agency the NSW government has indicated it would soon formally request additional military support. Some 580 unarmed army personnel are already helping police enforce home-quarantine orders on affected households in Sydney’s worst-affected western suburbs.
Several regional towns scattered across NSW have also been forced into snap lockdowns after fresh cases, raising fears the virus is spreading out of control.