The austere stay-at-home orders in Sydney and its surrounding areas will remain in place for two more weeks as the Delta-ignited outbreak has not shown any sign of recoiling, said Australian authorities on Wednesday, July 14. 

Sydney entered a strict lockdown period on June 26, when the COVID-19 outbreak, partly fuelled by the transmissible Delta variant, burst out. It was expected to be lifted after two weeks but then extended to July 16. 

Now the lockdown will continue until July 30, according to Forbes

The restrictions require the closing of non-essential businesses, most school students to stay at home and take remote learning classes. In addition, residents can only be allowed outside with reasonable excuses and for exercise, but they must not get further than 10km away from their home.

Since the Delta-incited outbreak took off in mid–June, New South Wales (NSW), the most populous state in Australia, now reported a record 112 new locally infected COVID-19 cases on Monday, July 12. Most of the infections circulated in Sydney and nearby areas. 

“It always hurts to say this, but we need to extend the lockdown at least a further two weeks,” said NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian in Sydney on Wednesday.

“We want to get out of this lockdown as soon as we can and that is why we have the settings in place that we have.”

According to Berejiklian, authorities may only consider lifting the restrictions if local infection rates plummet somewhere close to zero before the due date.

There were slightly fewer cases of local infections on Wednesday, with 97 cases. Still, Sydney, which fosters nearly 5 million citizens, has now accounted for a total number of positive cases of just below 900 and two deaths. 

Authorities predict more instances of the highly contagious Delta form to emerge in the coming days, based on the fact that 24 of the 97 new cases were infectious in the community.

The Delta variant has proven its destructive ability in the country. It also affected younger people and was reported to put one in three patients in Sydney into intensive care. 

 “Of the 21 people in ICU, one is in their 20s, two are in their 30s, two in their 40s, five in their 50s, five in the 60s, three in 70s, and two in their 80s,” said NSW Chief Health Officer Dr. Kerry Chant. “The reason I take the time to read out those age profiles, it really is to dispel the misconception that COVID is mild and does not affect younger age groups.”

The vaccination process in NSW has been relatively passive. So far, only 8.37% of the state’s population are fully immunized, and those that have only received one shot occupy a quarter of the overall community.