Australia's 'COVID Zero' Approach May Not Be Feasible

Half the country is under lockdown
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 21, 2021 1:31 AM CDT
Half of Australia Is Under Lockdown
In this July 7, 2021, file photo, a normally busy shopping area in Sydney is nearly empty of people.   (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft, File)

About half the population of Australia is in lockdown again as the delta variant of COVID-19 surges. Parts of New South Wales and Victoria had already had restrictions re-imposed, and on Tuesday, South Australia joined them, for a total of more than 13 million people under orders to stay home for everything other than essential reasons. South Australia's lockdown is the most restrictive since the start of the pandemic, Bloomberg reports: Residents must stay within 1.5 miles of home and abide by a 6pm curfew. Anger is growing, with some directed at the government's slow vaccine rollout, the BBC reports. Less than 14% of the population is vaccinated.

People are also unhappy because it's not clear when some places, including Melbourne and Sydney, will reopen. Modeling shows it may not be safe for Sydney to do so until September. Australia initially was lauded for its coronavirus response, known as "COVID zero," and it has still had fewer than 1,000 COVID deaths. But the delta outbreaks are growing, with more than 1,300 cases in Sydney despite it having gone into lockdown last month. And in Victoria, there were 22 new cases Wednesday, despite the state nearing its second week of lockdown, Reuters reports. The South China Morning Post notes that with delta being so much more contagious, such "COVID zero" strategies may no longer work. (Read more COVID-19 stories.)

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