Coronavirus infections are rising in Australia, despite a two-week-old lockdown intended to stop their spread. Officials are now focusing on how to enforce compliance with COVID-19 lockdown rules, particularly where such restrictions appear to be mostly ignored.
Authorities have said that strict stay-at-home orders in some of Australia’s most ethnically diverse areas in Sydney have been widely flouted, although charities have said community health messages for some migrant groups have been inadequate.
A major police operation is underway in parts of Sydney to ensure the rules are followed. Officers on horseback are expected to patrol main shopping areas.
Senior commanders have denied the crackdown is targeting multicultural areas.
Australian Prime Minister Prime Minister Scott Morrison said too many people have broken the rules.
“We haven’t seen the compliance that has been necessary. It is important to get that compliance in place,” he said. “The virus does not move on its own. It moves by people moving the virus around, and that is why it is so important that the restrictions that have been put in place that are appropriate just need to be complied with.”
Under Sydney’s lockdown, which is due to end on July 16, residents can only leave home to work, study, buy groceries, care for a relative or other dependent, or receive a COVID-19 vaccination.
Starting Friday, people will only be able to exercise in groups of two and do so within 10 kilometers of their homes.
The New South Wales chief health officer, Dr. Kerry Chant, urged residents to stay home.
“People are looking at countries overseas where they are seeing people going about their work and pleasure in a sort of seminormal way, and I think that is really important to highlight. That is because those countries have got vaccination coverages for their adult population, and in some cases down in the childhood population, that is very different from our situation. We have only got 9% vaccination coverage.”
Health officials have estimated there are 513 active coronavirus infections in Australia. Ninety–two patients are in the hospital.
New South Wales, including the state capital, Sydney, recorded another 44 new infections Friday.
Australia has recorded almost 31,000 COVID-19 cases and 910 deaths since the pandemic began.
Its international borders remain closed to most foreign nationals.