Authorities are battling to contain Covid-19 clusters in Australia’s two largest cities, urging people to avoid large New Year’s Eve gatherings to prevent wider outbreaks.
Ten new cases were reported overnight in Sydney, with a cluster on the Northern Beaches growing to 144, New South Wales state Premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters Thursday. A second group of infections in the city’s inner west has risen to nine.
Neighboring Victoria state, which had gone 61 days without recording community transmission of the virus, said eight cases had been detected. The outbreaks in the two states are likely connected, with someone who’d returned from New South Wales attending a Thai restaurant in Melbourne that’s linked to other new infections in the city.
The outbreaks are a blow to Australia, which had largely suppressed community transmission through rigorous testing and contact tracing, and by shuttering the international border — with all returned overseas travelers made to isolate for 14 days in quarantine hotels.