(Bloomberg) -- Sydney’s daily Covid-19 cases climbed and are expected to keep rising after thousands took to the streets over the weekend in defiance of the lockdown restrictions sweeping parts of Australia.
The city of almost 6 million people recorded 145 new cases Monday, up by a handful from the day before, with half of the people active in the community while infectious. There have been 2,226 cases since the latest outbreak began in mid-June, fueled by the contagious delta variant. The majority of cases were recorded in areas of southwest Sydney.
The lockdown affecting Sydney will almost certainly be extended past Friday, when it is due to end, New South Wales state Premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters at a regular morning briefing. Details of an extension and public activity restrictions are expected in the coming days.
“We might need to go harder in some areas and release some settings in others,” she said.
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Case numbers in Australia’s most populous city could continue rising after a weekend of protests that defied restrictions on crowd sizes, authorities said, and have the potential to become a superspreader event. Thousands of anti-lockdown protesters on Saturday flooded the country’s largest cities, some clashing with police. Over 50 people have been charged for defying public health orders, with more charges expected with police receiving over 5,000 tip-offs from members of the public.
Meanwhile, the neighboring state of Victoria recorded just 11 new cases in the past 24 hours, none of which were exposed to the community while infectious. Victoria, which has been under tighter restrictions than New South Wales, looks set to exit lockdown Tuesday.
New South Wales chief medical officer Kerry Chant on Monday called vaccination “part of the answer” in Sydney. The community should be inclined to “take up any opportunity to get vaccinated,” Chant said.
Her comments echoed a change in advice on Saturday from the Australian Technical Advisory Group urging adults in Sydney to “seriously consider” using AstraZeneca Plc’s vaccine -- which has been the subject of safety concerns -- because of the area’s infection rate and constraints on supplies of shots from Pfizer Inc.
Australia has administered enough doses for just 21.8% of its population, according to the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker, compared with 53.4% in the U.S. and 62.7% in the U.K.
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