Australian doctors warn too rapid a easing of COVID-19 restrictions in Sydney could strain health systems and risk lives, as the city prepares to lift major restrictions next week after more than 100 days in lockdown does.
Stay-at-home orders are due to be lifted on Monday after the state of New South Wales hit its 70% target of full immunization for its adult population this week, and owners of restaurants and other public places are now arranging supplies and staff. are scrambling to do. .
While restrictions on travel were eased for Sydneysiders outside their local government areas, on Thursday officials decided to bump up the allowed limits for domestic gatherings, weddings and funerals – earning the Australian Medical Association (AMA).
“New South Wales must not be reckless at this critical time,” AMA president Omar Khurshid said in a statement, adding that “too fast or too soon” could result in avoidable deaths and restarting the lockdown .
State Premier Dominic Perrot has defended his decision to ease a number of restrictions amid a steady decline in infections, saying the pandemic is “an economic crisis as well”.
Officials have a staggering plan to lower the limit for gatherings as full immunization affects 70%, 80% and 90% of adults and movement around the city will be allowed from Monday, with travel to regional areas There will be a ban.
Stuart Knox, owner of downtown restaurant and bar Fix Wines, said it was exciting to reopen even though preparations were difficult.
“We are still flying blind, we have no idea as a CBD restaurant how many people are coming back and it is all unclear what we are going to deal with,” he said.
He said he was still unsure how to check the vaccination status of patrons as needed because a promised smartphone app was not yet operational.
Daily infections in New South Wales rose to 646 on Friday, with the majority in Sydney up from 587 on Thursday. They had previously fallen from the last seven days as 90% of people over 16 were vaccinated in the first dose. Eleven new deaths were recorded.
The state’s chief health officer, Kerry Chant, said genomic sequencing has revealed a new delta strain in eight of the new cases and that more tests will be conducted to find the source.
“There is no indication that this new strain presents any difference with respect to transmission, vaccine effectiveness or severity,” she said.
The state of Victoria reported a record 1,838 new cases on Friday, the highest number of any state in the country since the pandemic began, exceeding the previous high of 1,763 set three days ago. There were five new deaths.
Australia is fighting a third wave of infections affected by the delta variant. In addition to Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra have also been under lockdown, closing thousands of businesses.
However, the country’s cumulative COVID-19 numbers are still far lower than many comparable countries, with some 122,500 cases and 1,405 deaths.
Neighboring New Zealand, which had been largely virus-free for most of the pandemic until the Delta outbreak in mid-August, reported 29 to 44 new local cases on Thursday.
(This story has not been edited by NB staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)