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The number of Sydney residents hospitalized from COVID-19 increased to 65 as the Australian city struggles to contain an outbreak of the delta variant.

Australia’s most-populous city recorded 89 new cases in the community on Tuesday from 112 the day before, with 21 infectious in the community, New South Wales state Premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters. A man in his 70s has died, the second fatality in the past week from the outbreak that’s grown to more than 700 cases since mid-June.

“In the next few days we want to see those numbers go in the same direction,” Berejiklian said of the fall in cases from the day before, while emphasizing a 24-hour drop did not indicate a trend. “Our efforts will allow us to leave the lockdown in a timely way, but that is dependent on all of us doing the right thing at all times.”

The hospitalizations are a worrying sign that authorities may impose tighter movement restrictions since being placed into a lockdown on June 26, as Sydney battles its largest coronavirus outbreak in more than a year. The outbreak is highlighting the problems in the nation’s tardy vaccine roll-out, which has been hit by supply-chain hold-ups from contracted drug-makers amid accusations from political rivals that Prime Minister Scott Morrison failed to secure enough doses from a wide-enough range of suppliers.

Australia’s government Tuesday increased support to companies and workers affected by extended lockdowns, including up to A$10,000 a week to businesses that have lost more than 30% of revenue. The increased support will kick in should a lockdown enter a fourth week in any state or territory, Morrison said in a statement.

Even as other developed economies such as the U.S. and the U.K. open up, Australia is further isolating after imposing strict border restrictions when the pandemic began. The lagging vaccination rate — the second-slowest among the 38 OECD nations — has made it particularly vulnerable to the delta variant, which is increasingly leaking out of the quarantine system for international arrivals.

The Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker shows Australia has administered enough doses for just 18% of its population, compared with the U.K. with 61% and the U.S. with 52%. While Sydney’s lockdown is due to end Friday, Berejiklian has indicated it is likely to be extended in an announcement on Wednesday.

“The numbers speak for themselves,” she said.

The Sydney Opera House in Australia.
The Sydney Opera House in Australia. (James McCann/Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff)

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