Sydney's COVID-19 outbreak throws harsh spotlight on Australia vaccine rollout

# 23 July 2021 20:30 (UTC +04:00)

Australia's New South Wales state on Friday reported its biggest daily rise in new COVID-19 cases this year, prompting a tighter lockdown in Sydney and a request for additional vaccine doses which was rebuffed by other state leaders, APA reports citing Reuters.

State premier Gladys Berejiklian characterised the escalating virus outbreak as a "national emergency" and raised the likelihood that stay-home orders for the country's biggest city would be extended beyond the current end-date of July 30.

"There is no doubt that the numbers are not going in the direction we were hoping they would at this stage," Berejiklian said as she announced 136 new cases in the New South Wales.

The state had urged the federal government to divert additional vaccine doses to Sydney, a request Prime Minister Morrison turned down following a national cabinet meeting with all state heads. read more

Australia boasted another record day for COVID-19 vaccination with almost 200,000 doses delivered in one day. Morrison, who on Thursday apologised for the slow pace of inoculation, said the latest data signalled the country's vaccination rollout had turned a corner.

"We are not going to disrupt the vaccination programme around the rest of the country," Morrison told reporters in Canberra on Friday.

Total infections in Australia's worst outbreak this year have jumped to just over 1,900 since the first case was detected in a Sydney limousine driver transporting international flight crews in mid-June.

Crucially, at least 53 of the new cases in Sydney were infectious in the community before being diagnosed. Authorities have said that figure needs to be near zero for the to be lifted.

The outbreak of the fast-moving Delta variant was carried to Victoria and South Australia states, forcing authorities to put more than half the country's population in lockdown. That has shut down large sectors of the economy, even as other parts of the world, including Britain and the United States, open up.