Melbourne extends lockdown as Sydney touts vaccine freedom
Australia's second-largest city, Melbourne, extended its lockdown on Aug. 11 in a bid to stamp out an outbreak of COVID-19, while authorities in Sydney said they were considering easing restrictions for vaccinated residents despite the delta variant continuing to spread.
Australian cities have used lockdowns to successfully end coronavirus outbreaks throughout the pandemic. But the highly contagious delta variant poses new challenges in a national population with a relatively low vaccination rate.
Melbourne's sixth lockdown will be extended for a second week until the end of Aug. 19, the Victoria state government said on Aug. 11 as it reported 20 new infections in the latest 24-hour period.
"This is very challenging, I know, for every single Victorian who would like to be going about their business. They'd like to be open and have a degree of freedom that's simply not possible because of this delta variant," Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said.
"If we were to open, then we would see cases akin to what's happening, tragically, in Sydney right now," he added.
Sydney, Australia's largest city, reported 344 new infections on Aug. 11. The only bigger daily infection tally was the 356 reported on Aug. 10.
Two COVID-19 patients died overnight, bringing the death toll for New South Wales state, home to Sydney, to 34 since the latest outbreak was detected in mid-June.
Hopes are fading that Sydney's lockdown, which began on June 26, will have contained the spread by Aug. 28, the date targeted for restrictions to be lifted.
But New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said some lockdown restrictions could be eased for vaccinated residents of some parts of the city of 5 million people from...