Australian state stalls easing Covid-19 curbs

Australia’s New South Wales (NSW) has stalled easing Covid-19 restrictions after new cluster outbreaks were reported in the state capital of Sydney, authorities said on Thursday.

On Thursday morning, the state registered six new locally acquired infections, which followed 11 local transmissions the day before, Xinhua news agency reported.

State leaders have described the present situation it as the most concerning since mid-July, when an outbreak at a western Sydney pub resulted in over 50 cases and a clampdown on the hospitality sector.

“This is the most concerned we’ve been since that first incident when the Victorian citizen came up, infected his colleagues and went for a drink at a hotel,” NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said in a briefing.

Health officials flagged several new areas where a person had been while infected with the virus, including public transport services, a tutoring service and shopping mall.

On Tuesday, the government announced that up to 500 people would be allowed to attend outdoor music performances, as long as they remained seated and groups remained four meters apart.

Restrictions for outdoor dining venues were also relaxed, allowing one patron per two square meters, as long as venues use an electronic contact tracing system to record patrons’ contact details.

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard urged anyone with even the slightest of symptoms to get tested, as well as to cooperate fully with questions to assist health officials with contact tracing.

“We are aiming to have at least 20,000 (tests) a day and while we have these positive cases still amongst us the emphasis is… Please get tested,” he added.

Of Australia’s 27,341 overall case tally, NSW accounts for 4,310 infections.

The country’s death toll stands at 904.