Australia Australia's pandemic focus shifts north as south-east Queensland joins Sydney in lockdown
From COVID-19 'gold standard' to ‘a national emergency’ — the five weeks that changed everything
When NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet strutted into Parliament to deliver this year's state budget on June 22, the mood was one of unbridled optimism. Just a month later, the outlook is very different — here's how the current COVID-19 crisis played out.The period of coronavirus lockdown induced economic turmoil seemed to be coming to an end, and, as Perrottet declared on budget night, NSW was "open for business".
In lead up to last weekend, the nation's pandemic focus was almost solely on New South Wales.
In the midst of an extended lockdown on the back of an outbreak of the delta variant, the state had reported.
NSW was seeing record numbers of tests but authorities were pleading with more people to come forward.
Theagainst again expressing their displeasure with imposed restrictions in the form of another .
With, the narrative was firmly in place that NSW would be the focal point of the nation's COVID-19 response for the weekend ahead.
Workers in south-west, Western Sydney exempt from toughest COVID-19 restrictions part of 'critical' national infrastructure
Wherever you live in Australia, you could be affected by a shutdown of Western Sydney. The south-west suburbs at the centre of Sydney's COVID-19 crisis are also major hubs of retail distribution, transport and logistics.The Chullora depot of Aramex employs about 300 workers, many of whom come from the surrounding suburbs.
That was until.
Delta spreads north
Prior to Saturday, students had not been required to wear masks in Queensland schools, despite children 12 and over being required to wear masks while in public elsewhere in the state.
As late as Friday,.
Whatever the logic behind the delineation, the delta variant seems to have paid little heed.
By Saturday, the cluster which first came to public attention in the form of a 17-year-old high school student from Brisbane's west testing positive, had grown to seven cases..
The six new cases of the delta strain were enough for Deputy Premier Steven Miles tothat afternoon.
NRL postpones all Saturday matches as Queensland locks down, scrambles to stage Sunday's games
Three round 20 games — the Rabbitohs against the Dragons, the Knights versus the Raiders and the Storm against the Panthers — are called off, with Sunday's two matches also in doubt.Three round 20 games — the Rabbitohs against the Dragons, the Knights versus the Raiders and the Storm against the Panthers — have been called off.
And just like that, the nation's attention shifted north.
Border restrictions reinstated
The response from the rest of the country was swift.
Within hours, the Tasmanian, Northern Territory and Victorian governments had imposed border restrictions on those travelling from Queensland.
People in Tasmania.
The Northern Territoryfrom the start of the lockdown.
under the state's traffic light permit system.
The red zone declaration means Victorians returning home from the affected areas after 8:00pm on July 31 must quarantine for 14 days.
And non-residents are effectively barred from entering the state without an exemption or an exception.
Victoria itself recorded six new cases over the weekend, with five having been in quarantine for the duration of their infectious period and the one other case
Queensland records nine new COVID-19 cases
It's the state's highest number of new community infections in a single day since August last year.Queensland has recorded nine new local cases of COVID-19 today, all connected to a rapidly spiralling outbreak linked to a Brisbane high school student.
Battle with virus continues in NSW
Meanwhile, in NSW, the state's extensive battle with the virus continued.
On Saturday,, followed the next day by a repeat of the state's record daily rise in case numbers .
The weekend may not have delivered a reversal in the trend of infections, but there were completely different scenes at planned anti-lockdown protests.
Following a heavy police presence in Sydney, and governmental backlash to last weekend's events, a feared repeat did not eventuate on Saturday.
The warnings of fines of up to $100,000 and exclusion zones set up around the CBDwhich had taken to the streets the week prior.
By Sunday,centred on appealing for as well as calling on more people to come forward for testing.
Up north, authorities in Queensland were repeating a similar message to their residents for more people to come forward for testing.
South-east Queensland extends lockdown
The new local COVID-19 cases announced today have triggered a longer lockdown in the state's south-east.The new cases are all linked to a known outbreak which now numbers 31, Deputy Premier Steven Miles said, and includes seven students from Ironside State School in Brisbane who tested positive overnight.
Push for more to come forward for testing
The Queensland lockdown was by no means a half-measure.
With, Queensland put into place what it called .
Essential activity outside south-east Queenslanders' homes was restricted to within a 10km radius and non-essential businesses were forced to close. Masks were mandated outside except for vigorous exercise.
The state's swift action was followed by, bringing the size of the cluster to 18.
Despite the lockdown having been put in place, Queensland authorities were still concerned that they had notwhose genome sequencing showed they were the source of transmission.
Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young indicated she believed the outbreak began on the Sunshine Coast, and urged more people from that region and the rest of the south-east to come forward for testing. She pushed for as many as 40,000 Queenslanders to come forward for testing daily. But the state was seeing much less.
Deputy Premier Steven Miles reiterated the call, describing as inadequate the less than 11,000 tests which were conducted in the 24 hours to Saturday morning.
Queensland bracing for lockdown extension
The risk of restrictions remaining beyond Sunday looks increasingly likely as the Delta strain spreads.Queenslanders are being told they could bring an end to the current coronavirus lockdown by coming forward for testing.
"We need more Queenslanders, particularly in the south-east, to get tested. While that's a high number — a high turnout for a Saturday — in previous outbreaks that were not this serious, we were consistently testing more than twice that number," he said.
Withon Sunday, health minister Yvette D'ath responded by saying more testing sites were opening up.
The path out of lockdowns
Residents in NSW and Queensland are back to following the trend in daily case numbers, wondering when the lockdown restrictions will lift.
And the entire nation continues to wonder when such lockdowns will no longer be required.
On Saturday, the nation's leader wasn't prepared to put a timeframe on the end to restrictions.
Drawing on the pathway out of the pandemic established by National Cabinet the day prior,.
Instead, he put the onus on Australians' vaccination rates — namely, reaching 70 per cent and 80 per cent of adults fully vaccinated.
"The day where we move forward is the day where we hit those targets — the calendar won't determine it, the vaccination rate will determine it," Mr Morrison said.
"If I were to walk out here in Canberra this morning wearing nothing but my board shorts, I would freeze.
"But if I go out there with a big coat on, I'll be fine — that's what getting to 70 per cent vaccination is."
And now Australians have a new set of daily numbers to monitor as they wait for a return to some kind of normalcy.
South-east Queensland's lockdown to lift after seven new cases linked to school cluster .
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says residents did a “mighty job” of controlling a cluster of the Delta COVID variant, saying lockdown will lift this afternoon.There were nine new cases in the state, including one case under investigation on the Gold Coast, and one case of concern in Cairns who was infectious in the community for 10 days.