Close to half of the population in Australia are now in lockdown as the nation struggles to contain a spread of the delta coronavirus variant. Brisbane on Tuesday became the fourth major city to issue stay-at-home orders.
“These are tough decisions. We are having lockdowns in major cities because the overseas arrivals are bringing the virus here,” Queensland state Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said after Australia recorded 23 virus cases in 24 hours.
Though Australia has done border closure, mandatory hotel quarantine for overseas arrivals, and snap lockdowns, the highly contagious Delta variant emerged in the country.
Less than five percent of adults are believed to have received both vaccine doses.
The largest outbreak is in Sydney. 150 people have tested positive for Covid-19 since mid-June in Sydney.
New Zealand said Tuesday it would partially reopen its travel bubble with Australia from July 5, but only with states that have not recorded any cases.
Under pressure over his government’s response, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced vaccines will become mandatory for aged care and quarantine hotel workers, while the AstraZeneca jab will be available to people aged under 60 who sign an indemnity form.
In all locked-down areas, people are generally required to stay at home except for essential work, exercise, to buy groceries or for medical reasons.
Australia has recorded a total of just over 30,000 cases and 910 deaths in a population of about 25 million since the pandemic began.