SYDNEY (June 29): Close to half of the population of Australia is now in lockdown as the country struggles to contain the outbreak of the highly infectious Delta coronavirus variant, reported CNN.

Four of Australia’s eight capital cities, including Perth, Brisbane, Sydney and Darwin, are now under lockdown after seeing an increasing number of cases linked to the Delta variant. An outbreak in New South Wales (NSW) capital Sydney linked to the variant has grown to nearly 150 cases.

Concerns the Delta strain could spark significant outbreaks have also seen some form of restrictions in most other cities, affecting more than 20 million Australians or about 80% of the population, said the report.

Australia has fully vaccinated nearly 5% of its population, compared with more than 46% in the United States and 48% in the UK, according to Our World in Data.

According to The Guardian’s report, Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the next 48 hours is crucial, as the number of local cases grew to 10. 

The Northern Territory health minister Natasha Fyles said current cases linked to the Delta variant stood at six and the authorities expect there will be more cases due to cold weather. 

The report quoted a virologist from Kirby Institute at the University of NSW Stuart Turville, said people tend to congregate indoors together in colder months, giving the virus more chance to spread and survive.

Meanwhile, the Delta variant has a secondary attack rate of  11.4%, compared with 8% for the Alpha variant.

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