New South Wales: Australia's most populous state locked down

14 August 2021, 11:34 | Updated: 15 August 2021, 07:57

The whole state of New South Wales has been placed on lockdown until 22 August
The whole state of New South Wales has been placed on lockdown until 22 August. Picture: Alamy
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Australia's most populous state - New South Wales (NSW) - has entered a strict lockdown after seeing a record number of daily Covid cases.

Some 466 new locally acquired coronavirus infections were recorded on Saturday amid a surge in cases of the highly transmissible Delta variant.

The previous daily record for the state - home to the cities of Sydney and Newcastle, plus the backpacker-favourite town of Byron Bay - was 390, reported on Friday.

Four more people in the state died with Covid overnight, bringing the NSW death toll since the Delta variant was first detected in Sydney in mid-June to 42.

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The worrying spread of the virus has led to the state's premier Gladys Berejiklian introducing a fresh wave of controls, which include increased penalties for breaches of pandemic restrictions.

She said fines for breaking the rules, such as ignoring quarantine orders, have increased from $1,000 AUD (£531) to $5,000 (£2,656).

Sydney residents will now only be allowed to travel within three miles of their homes, half the distance they were previously allowed, while the rest of the state will be shut down until 22 August.

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Deputy premier John Barilaro tweeted that the stay-at-home orders were to minimise movement and protect regional communities from the evolving Covid-19 situation in Sydney.

Ms Berejiklian said a positive note was that half the NSW population older than 16 had received at least one vaccine dose.

"We know that the lockdown, coupled with a strong, targeted vaccination programme, is what is going to get us out of this dire situation," Ms Berejiklian said.

Police, supported by the military, will crack down on Sydney residents who breach stay-at-home orders from Sunday night.

The city has been in lockdown since 26 June, some 10 days after the first Delta case was detected.