Multiple new lockdowns across Australia . . .
Nearly half of Australia’s population is now living under renewed lockdown, with multiple COVID-19 outbreaks active in at least four states and territories. Sydney is the epicentre of the recent outbreaks, where 149 positive cases have been reported, including the highly infectious Delta variant. Sweeping restrictions have been introduced for Greater Sydney, although one case linked to the Sydney cluster has been identified in Western Australia. Of even greater concern are six positive cases identified at a mine in the Northern Territory linked to a hotel quarantine site in Queensland. Since the case was identified, over 900 people have left the mine for locations across the country. Contact tracers are scrambling to locate them.
Indonesia’s concerning spike in cases . . .
In Indonesia, daily COVID-19 cases totalled over 20,000 on Monday, a worrying spike in transmission. The country’s Health Ministry warned that the surge threatens to overwhelm hospitals – some already reporting over 90 per cent occupancy in isolation and ICU beds. President Joko Widodo will announce stricter restrictions and tougher lockdowns effective tomorrow (June 30). The Red Cross considers the highly transmissible Delta variant responsible for Indonesia’s second wave, even though the country has only 249 confirmed Delta variant cases across the islands of Java, Sumatra, and Kalimantan. Health authorities continue to struggle to form an accurate picture of the Delta variant’s spread given Indonesia’s chronic low levels of testing – identifying only 20 to 30 per cent of actual, regular cases – and the added need for genomic sequencing to identify the variant.
Letting our guard down . . .
Vaccination rates in Australia and Indonesia are less than 5 per cent and less than 7 per cent, respectively. This is significantly lower than in Canada, where around 70 per cent of the population has received at least one vaccine and approximately 30 per cent is fully vaccinated. The current Australia and Indonesia outbreaks could be instructive for Canada managing future outbreaks, whether vaccination numbers plateau soon or new variants render current vaccines less effective. Responding to small outbreaks with quick lockdowns to limit spread (as in Australia) is a must, as is continuing to ensure broad vaccination to avoid any return to infection numbers akin to those seen in Indonesia. Doing so will help keep unvaccinated people safer, including children not yet eligible for vaccination.
- The New York Times: Concern over the Delta variant triggers lockdowns in Asian and Pacific countries
- Nikkei Asia: Indonesian daily COVID cases jump past 20,000 as Delta fears grow
- Sydney Morning Herald: The four events that locked down a city, put 5000 in quarantine