Australian Lockdown Measures Continue as Sydney Deploys Army to Keep Residents at Home
In the Australian metropolis of Sydney, the army has been deployed to check whether residents are respecting the lockdown. In addition, unarmed soldiers and the police will patrol the streets of specific neighbourhoods where the coronavirus is rising.
The state of New South Wales, which includes Sydney, has now been in lockdown for six weeks in and around the city to quell a new outbreak of the highly contagious delta strain of the coronavirus. But the zero-covid policy with new lockdowns is clearly hitting its limits. The restrictions in the state will remain in place until at least August 28 and must now also be enforced with the help of military personnel.
300 soldiers will go door to door under police command with people who have to remain in quarantine because they are linked to an infection. In the neighbourhoods with the highest number of infections, the military will patrol together with the police. The Australian army command emphasizes that the soldiers are not armed and mainly offer logistical assistance, just like with the vaccination campaign or with food distribution.
The new cases in neighbouring Queensland are linked to a cluster – now totalling 31 cases – that started with an infection in a 17-year-old high school student, Australia’s AAP news agency reported.
The city of Brisbane and the nearby Gold Coast are among the affected areas. Residents are only allowed to leave their homes for essential work, shopping, healthcare, care, or sports. It is also allowed to go outside to undergo a Covid-19 test or to get vaccinated.
Defense Secretary Peter Dutton is himself one of the victims of the lockdown. Because his children’s school is linked to an infection, he and his family must remain in quarantine for two weeks. Australia had a fairly successful corona strategy last year, trying to eradicate the virus through lockdowns and closing borders. However, this strategy is now being put to the test by the more contagious delta variant that is difficult to control.
The vaccination campaign is also failing: so far, only about 12 million vaccine doses have been administered out of a population of about 25 million inhabitants. The aim is to reach 70 percent vaccinated by the end of the year, compared to 19 percent now. Only then will the lockdowns become less likely, predicting Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who is increasingly criticized for handling the pandemic. However, that does not alter the fact that Australia still comes out quite well compared to many other countries with more than 34,000 infections and fewer than a thousand corona deaths.