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Australia’s Covid-19 Delta Outbreak Worsening Despite Lockdown Measures 

Sydney, Australia is already debating extending their current lockdown as Australian health officials continue to report a daily rise in Covid-19 cases. These daily rises are specifically fueled by the highly contagious Delta variant of the virus that’s been spreading around the world. 

New South Wales state reported 112 new cases of Covid-19 despite the fact that Sydney, the country’s largest city, is currently entering its third week of lockdown. Case numbers have been reaching record highs every day. New infections luckily dropped slightly this Sunday, from 45 to 34. 

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State Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the “progress of that figure in coming days would determine whether Sydney’s lockdown would be extended. That’s the number we need to get as close to zero as possible. It is really up to us. The health expert advice will be based on what those numbers look like. I can’t be clearer than that.”

Total infections in this particular outbreak are reaching 700. 63 individuals are currently hospitalized while 18 are in intensive care. 

Lockdown measures in Sydney include school closures, stay-at-home orders, and of course mask mandates and social distancing procedures anywhere essential workers are present. Many small business owners are worried about the economic impact of another lockdown if the government doesn’t provide any economic assistance. 

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Australia was able to previously contain their Covid-19 flare-ups with strict lockdowns, speedy contact tracing efforts, and social distancing rules. The nation has experienced 31,200 cases and 911 deaths since the pandemic began. 

Only 11% of Australia’s adult population of 20.5 million have been fully vaccinated. Critics believe a lack of communication with the public and vaccine shortages in general have led to the outbreak the nation is currently enduring. 

Federal health guidance in Australia currently recommends the AstraZeneca vaccine be restricted to individuals over the age of 60 while the Pfizer vaccine is limited to individuals between the age of 40 and 60. 

In New South Wales, vaccine centers and pharmacies will be able to give the AstraZeneca vaccine to anyone over the age of 40. The state government also claimed they would be opening a vaccination hub in western Sydney, which is the epicenter of the outbreak.

Fireworks

Sydney’s New Year’s Eve Fireworks Will Go On Despite Bushfire Concerns

Sydney, Australia is known for its annual New Year’s Eve fireworks display. However, this year over a quarter of a million people have signed a petition to cancel the show in response to the massive wild/bush fires that have been affecting the area recently. The petition was made through Change.org and currently has just over 276,000 signatures with a goal of 300,000. In the description the petition states that the funds that would typically be spent on the extravagant display should be redistributed in order to help with recovery efforts from the devastating fires, as well as preventative measures for the future. 

“I’ve been moved by the outpouring of support and care for the community but the event will continue as planned. Our fireworks are planned 15 months in advance and most of the budget — which is largely allocated to crowd safety and cleaning measures — has already been spent.” Sydney’s Lord Mayor Clover Moore said in a statement

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It’s likely that with this statement from the mayor and with there only being one day until New Year’s Eve, the fireworks show will still go on, however, the message Australia’s citizens are attempting to spread should still be heard, so their fight is continuing. Sydney is the capital of New South Wales (NSW), where a majority of these fires have been taking place. 

Linda McCormich is the NSW resident who started the online petition and is leading the fight against the display. She wants the money to go to “farmers and firefighters to save Australia’s wildlife. The fireworks could traumatise some people as there is enough smoke in the air.” Additionally, the petition states that in 2018, Sydney spent close to $5.8 million on the display alone, which McCormich and her supporters believe would be more than enough to rebuild and refurbish some of the major damage done across the country. 

Within the past two months NSW has lost over 900 homes and an estimated 10 individuals to the devastating bushfires, according the the NSW Fire Services. The fires have also sent Australia as a whole into one of the driest and most vast droughts of the decade, with an average daily maximum of 107 degrees fahrenheit. The fires have been so tragic that the Australian capital Canberra has cancelled all future fireworks displays and enforced a total fire ban, a political move that also worked as a motivator for this particular petition. 

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“(Canceling) the event would seriously hurt Sydney businesses. It would also ruin plans for tens of thousands of people from across the country and overseas who have booked flights, hotels and restaurants for New Year’s Eve. $433,000 has already been donated to support communities and wildlife impacted by bushfire and drought, and offered our trucks and staff to help emergency services with cleanup and recovery efforts. The display will also be greener this year using fireworks that are carbon offset,” said organizers from the City Council of Sydney in a statement

New South Wales has also made a public statement that all Rural Fire Service volunteers are being paid a maximum of $6,000 each for their extreme relief efforts. A majority of firefighters in the country have still yet to be paid for their bush-fire work, due to the frequent occurrences of them, and damages done in general.

While efforts to cancel the display have been strong, council members stated that the amount of money local businesses earn during the New Year’s Eve rush is imperative to the survival of most of them. In addition, hundreds of thousands of people make commitments to come to Sydney specifically for New Year’s, and they book the trips so far in advance, cancelling now would cause complete chaos around the world. So while the 275,000+ individuals will be disappointed, city council members as well as environmentalists are still working together to rebuild and recover from an otherwise devastating year.