Sydney outbreak a ‘national emergency’ as cases spike

SYDNEY (AFP) – Sydney’s fast-growing coronavirus outbreak has become a “national emergency”, state leaders said yesterday, as Australia’s largest city reported another record number of new infections.

Admitting a month-long lockdown had failed to stop a Delta-variant outbreak, the state of New South Wales pleaded for Canberra to urgently send more vaccines and resources.

Calling the outbreak a national emergency could pave the way for more federal government involvement in stemming the crisis.

“We have an obligation on behalf of the nation to contain the virus,” said New South Wales premier Gladys Berejiklian. “There is no doubt that the numbers are not going in theright direction.”

Her state yesterday reported 136 new cases, a record for this outbreak, which now totals 1,782.

With the virus “spreading everywhere” and half the country’s 25 million people currently in lockdown, Berejiklian said the government must “refocus” its glacial vaccine rollout.

Just 12 per cent of Australians have been fully vaccinated, due to problems with supplies of Pfizer jabs and scepticism about the safety of the AstraZeneca vaccine.