The most populous state of Australia, New South Wales (NSW) has reported a double-digit rise in the new locally acquired cases in Covid-19 for the third straight day as officials are fighting to contain an outbreak of the highly contagious Delta variant.
Gladys Berejiklian, the state premier has told the reporters in Sydney that since the start of the pandemic this is perhaps the scariest period that New South Wales is going through.
NSW has imposed tough restrictions in Sydney, the largest city in Australia and also home to a fifth of the 25 million population of the country. The health officials have said that the transmission could be happening even through minimal contact with infected persons.
NSW officials have also so far resisted calls for a hard lockdown although Australia has got a good record of successfully suppressing past outbreaks through tough social distancing rules, snap lockdowns, and swift contact tracing.
Australia has reported just under 30,400 cases and also 910 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
Berejiklian has also said that despite the virus variant being very infectious, her government was comfortable at this stage with the current level of restrictions.
Mark McGowan, the state premier of Western Australia has urged NSW authorities to place the state in a lockdown to kill and crush the virus and has warned that little touch curbs could trigger a spike in infections. Western Australia has already closed its borders to NSW.
The NSW authorities have already imposed mandatory masks in all indoor locations in Sydney that includes offices, restricted residents in seven council areas in the east of Sydney and the inner west from leaving the city, and they have also limited home gatherings to five to contain the first outbreak in the state in more than a month.
The state has also been effectively isolated from the rest of the country after some states like Western Australia have slammed their borders shut while others have introduced tough border rules.
On Thursday, eleven new local cases are reported and it has taken the total infections in the latest outbreak to more than 40. The data from Thursday includes six cases that are detected after 8 pm, a cut-off deadline that will be included in the tally on Friday.
The NSW state parliament has released a restricted list of politicians allowed into the chamber after Adam Marshall, the state Agriculture Minister has tested positive for Covid-19, and Health Minister Brad Hazzard in isolation after he was deemed to be a possible close contact of a positive case.
Victoria State, which shares its borders with NSW, has reported its first case on Thursday and it is likely linked to the NSW outbreak after a man in his 60s tested positive after returning home from Sydney. It has reported another case earlier in the day that is linked to an existing cluster and three new cases are reported by Queensland.