A health worker gets details from a resident at a COVID-19 drive-through a testing clinic in Sydney. AFP
Sydney coronavirus caseload may hit peak next week as Australia steps up vaccine rollout and trying to contain a third wave of infections that has hit its two largest cities, Sydney and Melbourne, and its capital Canberra, forcing more than half the country's 25 million people into strict stay-at-home restrictions.
New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the government's modelling revealed the state would require its highest number of intensive care beds in early October, with "additional pressure on the system" in the next few weeks.
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Daily cases in Sydney's worst-affected suburbs are expected to rise to as high as 2,000 until the middle of this month, the modelling showed.
"If too many of us do the wrong thing, (if) there are too many super-spreading events, we could see those numbers higher," Berejiklian said during a media briefing in Sydney, the state capital.
A total of 1,071 COVID-19 cases are currently in New South Wales hospitals, with 177 people in intensive care (ICU), 67 of whom require ventilation. Officials have said they had quadrupled ICU beds to about 2,000 in the state early last year to handle the pandemic.Despite the recent outbreaks, Australia's coronavirus numbers have remained relatively low at around 63,000 cases and 1,044 deaths.
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 authorities announced that the lockdown of the city of 5 million would last at least until Aug. 28 and warned the outbreak would get worse.
Sydney, which is in its eighth week of lockdown, is the epicentre of Australia's third COVID-19 wave, while Melbourne, Canberra and Darwin — which begun its curbs on Monday — are all in lockdown, cases have proved stubbornly difficult to suppress.
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