Tag Archives: sydney

Sydney extends lockdown for another month as coronavirus cases keep mounting

Australia’s largest city was meant to exit its five-week lockdown on July 30, but it seems it wasn’t meant to be. Citing a growing number of cases and still-low vaccination rates, local authorities have announced this Wednesday that the lockdown will be extended for one more month.

Image credits Robert Dychto.

This June, a driver for an international flight crew in Sydney contracted the coronavirus — thus plunging the city again into quarantine. After announcing 177 new cases, local authorities have announced an extension of lockdown measures. They urged those living in infection hotspots to not leave their neighborhoods, although those living alone will be allowed a “singles bubble” with another person, a move that I’m sure many interaction-starved Sydneyites will be very thankful for.

The lockdown will remain in effect until August 28, according to French news outlet AFP.

Locked Down Under — the extended cut

“I appreciate personally what we’re asking people do for the next four weeks but it is because we want to keep our community safe and want to make sure we can bounce back as quickly as possible,” New South Wales state premier Gladys Berejiklian said.

While lockdown measures remain in effect, Sydney residents can leave their homes only for exercise, essential work, to shop for necessities such as food, and for medical reasons. Local police have been issuing fines to those violating the restrictions, and Berejiklian said compliance efforts will be increased moving forward. He also asked residents to report those breaking the rules.

While Sydney is still grappling with the virus, Melbourne has just finished its fifth lockdown after beating the Delta variant of the coronavirus for the second time. Roughly eight million people in Victoria and South Australia states have also exited lockdown measures after outbreaks of the virus were deemed contained.

While Australia did move quickly against the virus in the early stages of the pandemic, it has struggled with the follow-through. It maintains a high percentage of unvaccinated citizens (roughly 76%), which left it vulnerable to the newer Delta variant. Its cities have been repeatedly going in and out of lockdown, and while Australians have been dutifully respecting these, in general, the frequent shutdowns are starting to take a toll on businesses and the general public.

Low supplies of Pfizer-BioNTech doses of the vaccine, and a wide distrust of the AstraZeneca shots are frustrating vaccination efforts. So far, Australia has officially recorded 33,000 infections and 921 COVID-related deaths.

Huge dust storm chokes Sydney

 

A significant part of Australia’s east coast, including country’s biggest city, Sydney, has been engulfed by a shroud of red dust blown mostly from the desert outback. Visibility was so bad that most if not all flights were delayed, and of course, there were the usual folks who started screaming that this is the apocalypse. Turns out, it wasn’t.

Photo by Merbabu.

Numerous buildings, including the famous Opera House were covered in a thick blanket of dust and people took cover in their houses or nearby buildings. Lots of folks took to wearing masks and the emergency service reported a huge number of people who came in with respiratory problems. The transportation system was crippled also and doctors warned especially children and elder people to stay indoor until the storm passed, and even a few hours after that.

On Wednesday morning, powerful winds generated by a major cold air front transported tons and tons of dust from the drought plagued outback and brought it into the city. Dust storms are not really that uncommon, but they rarely take place somewhere else than the desert (or nearby areas); also, the pollution levels from the air were the highest recorded ever, with the 15,500 micrograms of particles per cubic meter generating a Mars-like landscape.

“On a clear day the readings for particulate matter or PM10 is around 10-20 micrograms per cubic meter,” said Chris Eiser of the NSW department of the environment. “During a bushfire, when there is heavy smoke around, we might see readings of around 300 to 500 micrograms per cubic meter.”

 

Locals described waking up to the storm as waking up on Mars, or even yet, in the middle of the apocalypse. The sky was soaked in red, the wind was blowing strongly and the whole scenery was somewhere between eerie and downright scary. They weren’t really as dangerous as they seemed, but they could do a significant amount of damage to one’s health.

“Dust storms are particularly hazardous for anyone with chronic lung disease or sinus disease. Once the particles per cubic metre are above 300, dust storms pose a risk to lung health,” said Dr Phillip Thompson of the University of Western Australia.

Here’s a video and some pics.

Dust storm Sydney 23 September 2009

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Pics via The Guardian