Australian authorities have begun handing out emergency supplies of COVID-19 vaccines in the Sydney suburbs worst hit by the outbreak of the fast-moving Delta variant, as New South Wales state reported another record rise in daily cases.
State Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the acceleration in inoculations on Thursday in Australia’s biggest city was providing some hope as the city battles its worst outbreak since the coronavirus pandemic began.
“The next few weeks will be hard, but no doubt that once we get those high vaccination rates life will feel much better, it will look much rosier,” Berejiklian told reporters.
She said there were 681 new locally acquired cases on Thursday, most of them in Sydney, exceeding the previous daily high of 633 set on Wednesday while some 119,000 people came forward for testing. One additional death was recorded on Thursday, bringing the death toll from the outbreak which was first discovered in mid-June to 61.
Meanwhile, officials are making massive efforts to increase vaccination rates across New South Wales to tackle the virus spread and as a prerequisite for relaxing lockdown measures.
The State Premier has yet to formally extend the shutdown, which is currently due to expire at the end of the month, but has made it clear that 70 percent of the state’s population over the age of 16 must be vaccinated, a target she expects to reach by the end of October.
About 28.5 percent of people in the state are currently fully vaccinated, slightly higher than national numbers, while approximately 52 percent have received at least one dose.
Officials allocated more than half an emergency supply of Pfizer vaccines bought from Poland, equivalent to about 500,000 doses, to the 12 worst-affected suburbs in Sydney. They will be used to vaccinate people aged below 40 years over the next two weeks.