A worker cleans the waterfront area of the Sydney Opera House. Reuters
Gulf Today Report
Australian authorities on Tuesday vowed to crank up policing of anti-COVID-19 lockdown rules in Sydney as the city posted a new record of Covid-19 infections.
Sydney, with more than five million population, struggles to control an outbreak that is sending other Australian regions into lockdown.
Australia's biggest city is now in their seventh week of lockdown as the cluster hit 5,805 cases with 32 deaths to date. New South Wales state announced 356 new cases, a fresh record for a Delta-variant outbreak that began in mid-June.
"Our strategy is to get to as close to zero as we can... but regrettably we have seen those numbers increase in the last few days," state premier Gladys Berejiklian said.
Sydney announces 356 new cases on Tuesday. File photo
Authorities also announced three deaths from the virus; all of them unvaccinated, with 60 in intensive care, 28 of whom require ventilation.
According to local media reports Australia had dodged the worst ravages of the pandemic through a strategy of closed borders, lockdowns, mandatory travel quarantine, and aggressive testing and tracing.
Amid questions about the effectiveness of Sydney's lockdown, under which residents are supposed to stay at home bar essential movements, NSW authorities said police have been asked to step up checks on how many people were being allowed inside small shops at the same time as they were still seeing "lots of unnecessary movement of people".
"What I'm concerned about is the crowding in shopping centres and places where we have seen transmission events in small shops," state Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant told reporters.
A Lamborghini driver pulled over for speeding at 160km/h claimed he was rushing towards the hospital to be tested for coronavirus.
The flare-up was a shock for a city that had returned to relative normality after months with very few local cases. More than five million people across Sydney will be subject to movement restrictions from Saturday evening.
Thousands of police officers in Sydney and Melbourne were deployed to quell planned anti-lockdown protests, setting up checkpoints and barricades.
The Kremlin is expected to move immediately to absorb the regions once the voting is over, with President Vlaidmir Putin expected to declare their incorporation into Russia later this week.
Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said earlier that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has ordered an investigation into the audio leaks allegedly from PM House that features government officials.
Blinken's comments came after India's defence and foreign ministers opposed a US decision to provide a support package of about $450 million for Pakistan's fleet of US-made F-16 fighter jets.
The ceremony started at 2:00 p.m. (0500 GMT), with Abe's ashes carried into the Nippon Budokan Hall in central Tokyo by his widow, Akie, to music from a military band and the booms of the honour-guard salute, which echoed inside the hall.