SYDNEY, July 30 (Reuters) – Sydney’s poorest neighbourhoods on Friday braced for military enforcement of the city’s toughest and longest lockdown of the COVID-19 pandemic as the infection numbers held persistently high five weeks since restrictions began.
With the city of 5 million people ordered to stay home amid an outbreak of the highly transmissable Delta variant, authorities outlined even tighter restrictions for the worst affected suburbs, including mandatory testing and mask-wearing outdoors.
From Monday, some 300 Australian army personnel will help police door-knock people who have tested positive to the virus to ensure they are isolating, New South Wales police commissioner Mick Fuller said at a televised news conference.
“The sheer volume of increase over the last week (means) the level of compliance (enforcement) has gone from hundreds into thousands,” he said.
The amped-up military and police presence would cover the breadth of Australia’s largest city but mainly eight local government districts in the city’s west – home to 2 million people – where most new cases have been reported.
As the city entered its sixth week of a planned nine-week lockdown, New South Wales state reported 170 new local cases, most in the state capital Sydney, down from a record 239 a day earlier. Of the new cases, at least 42 spent time in the community while infectious.
While new cases fell, state premier Gladys Berejiklian said the high number of infectious people in the community meant “we are expecting to see those numbers bounce around”.
At the same news conference, state health minister Brad Hazzard said people were waiting too long to get tested after developing symptoms, and that “we are seeing more families coming in with a family member who is presenting not alive but dead”.