Australia continued Thursday to struggle against the delta variant of the coronavirus, with its largest city, Sydney, reporting a record daily number of new cases and the state of Victoria announcing a one-week lockdown.
Sydney, which is near the seventh week of a nine-week lockdown, reported 262 cases and five deaths in the past 24 hours.
So far, the country as a whole has seen relatively few cases and deaths, but vaccination rates are low, with only about 20% of people over 16 fully vaccinated.
Victoria’s lockdown was triggered by eight new cases.
"Nothing about this is optional. This is a lockdown. It will be enforced, for the best of reasons and the best purposes, to bring these case numbers down, under control so we can once again be open," Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews told reporters in Melbourne.
All three of Australia’s biggest cities – Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane – are currently locked down.
Some health officials told Reuters they expected more lockdowns until the country reached a higher vaccination rate.
Some feared the measures could force the country into its second recession in two years, because many are unable to work with so many businesses closed.
Some information in this report came from The Associated Press and Reuters.