Australia's 2nd largest city, Melbourne, enters 6th lockdown
CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia’s second-largest city, Melbourne, went into a sixth lockdown on Thursday, with a state government leader blaming the nation’s slow COVID-19 vaccination rollout.
Melbourne joins Sydney and Brisbane, Australia’s most populous and third-most populous cities respectively, in locking down due to the spread of the highly contagious delta variant.
Melbourne and surrounding Victoria state will lock down for seven weeks after eight new infections were detected in the city, Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said.
Andrews gave less than four hours' notice that the state would lock down from 8 p.m. He said his government had no other choice because only 20% of Australian adults had been fully vaccinated by Wednesday.
“To be really frank, we don’t have enough people that have been vaccinated and, therefore, this is the only option available to us,” Andrews said. “The time will come when we have many more options. But that isn’t now.”
Andrews has accused neighboring New South Wales state of taking too long to lock down Sydney after a limousine driver who became infected while transporting a U.S. aircrew from Sydney Airport tested positive to the delta variant on June 16.
New South Wales on Thursday reported its worst day since the Sydney lockdown began on June 26 with a record 262 new local infections and five deaths.
New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said four of the dead had not been vaccinated. One had a single dose of the two-shot AstraZeneca vaccine in late May.
Australian authorities have urged people in Sydney not to wait for the optimal 12 weeks before getting their second AstraZeneca dose.
“No one who has died has had both doses of vaccine. I cannot stress enough how it’s so important for everybody of all ages to come forward...