Sydney: For the first time since the global epidemic began, Australia’s new daily cases of COVID-19 surpassed 1,000 on Thursday, as two major hospitals in Sydney set up emergency outside tents to help deal with an increase in patients.
Sydney, the country’s largest city and the epicenter of the current outbreak, is battling to contain a surge in the fast-spreading Delta form, with daily infections reaching record highs despite being under lockdown for two months.
The state of New South Wales (NSW), where Sydney is the capital, recorded 1,029 new locally acquired cases, breaking the previous day’s record of 919. Greater Sydney saw 969 new cases, up from 838 previously.
Due to the sudden increase in COVID-19 patients, Sydney’s Westmead and Blacktown hospitals, which serve the city’s expansive western suburbs, have had to erect tents to screen and swab patients in order to manage capacity.
A Western Sydney Local Health District official told Reuters that the improvised section in the emergency department for COVID-19 patients will assist “offload delays.”
Early last year, state Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced that authorities had doubled the number of intensive care ventilators in the state to 2,000. Although the system is “under pressure,” she believes it can withstand the current crisis if vaccination rates rise.
“Because of the scenario, it may differ from previous assistance, but please know the system is kicking in,” Berejiklian said during a televised press conference.
In New South Wales, 102 of the 116 persons in intensive care are unvaccinated. Three more deaths were reported, including one of a man in his 30s who died at home, bringing the total number of deaths from the most recent outbreak to 79, but the death rate has reduced since last year.
The Australian Paramedic Association said in a video uploaded on Twitter Wednesday night that due to the increase in patients, paramedics were given the option of waiting in their trucks with sick persons or “waiting outdoors in the cold rain.”
The fast-moving Delta variant has tarnished Australia’s early success against the virus, which has kept the country’s coronavirus numbers relatively low, with 47,700 cases and 989 deaths. Approximately 32% of adults over the age of 16 have been fully vaccinated, with slightly over 54% have received at least one dose.
Aside from Sydney, the country’s second-largest city, Melbourne, and the capital, Canberra, is also under lockdown, with more than half of the country’s 25 million people ordered to stay at home. Cases in Victoria, which includes Melbourne, increased to 80 on Thursday, up from 45 the day before.
The federal government is pushing ahead with plans to reopen the country if vaccination rates reach 70%-80%, although some provinces have indicated they may delay due to the rapid surge of infections in Sydney.
Berejiklian predicted that NSW will have 70 percent of its residents completely vaccinated by mid-October, and Qantas said it was prepared for international travel to start in December.
Woolworths Group reported a jump in annual profit on Thursday as lockdowns boosted demand for basic goods.