Australia records one of its youngest Covid-19 deaths as Sydney outbreak grows

People with protective face masks walk through the quiet city centre during a lockdown to curb the spread of a coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak in Sydney, Australia on July 28, 2021.
PHOTO: Reuters

SYDNEY, Australia- Australia's New South Wales (NSW) reported one of the country's youngest deaths from Covid-19 on Wednesday (Aug 4), as daily infections lingered near a 16-month high despite the lockdown of five million people in state capital Sydney entering its sixth week.

The unnamed man in his 20s, who had no underlying health issues and was unvaccinated, died at his home in the city, authorities said. He deteriorated rapidly after earlier complaining of just mild symptoms, they added.

The death highlights the risk facing Australia's largest city, which is struggling to contain an outbreak of the highly infectious Delta variant when fewer than 20 per cent of Sydney's residents are vaccinated.

Last year, the neighbouring state of Victoria said an unnamed man also in his 20s had died from Covid-19, though a coroner is still investigating the exact cause of death.

People with protective face masks walk through the quiet city centre during a lockdown to curb the spread of a coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak in Sydney, Australia on July 28, 2021. PHOTO: Reuters

The young man was one of two Covid-19 deaths reported in NSW in the past 24 hours. NSW also recorded 233 new cases, near a 16-month high reported last week, and State Premier Gladys Berejiklian said case numbers would likely grow.

"I'm not going to rule out case numbers won’t get worse, I actually think they will get worse,” Berejiklian told reporters in Sydney.

"If you look at the number of people infectious in the community, it indicates that perhaps we haven’t reached our peak."

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Berejiklian is under intense pressure to ease the movement restrictions that threaten to drive Australia into its second recession in as many years. However, she has said at least 50 per cent of the state's population would need to be vaccinated for the curbs to ease at the end of August. 

Still, many remain wary of taking the AstraZeneca vaccine, the most plentiful of two vaccines approved in the country, because of a rare blood clotting issue.

Additionally, government modelling released on Tuesday showed at least 70 per cent of the state's population would need to be inoculated to slow the spread.

Authorities have warned people not to wait for an increase in Pfizer supplies expected next month as case numbers prove difficult to curtail and sewage tests are indicating the coronavirus may have spread north.

Countermeasures

NSW has taken aggressive countermeasures to stop the coronavirus's spread, including sealing off high-risk suburbs and asking the military to help police enforce lockdown rules. 

A total of 17 people have died in Sydney during the current outbreak that began on June 16. During that time, the surge has pushed the total cases in NSW to more than 4,000.

Nationally, Australia has recorded 927 deaths since the pandemic's start, with just over 35,000 cases out of 22 million people.

Queensland on Wednesday reported 16 locally acquired cases, the same as the day earlier, prompting authorities to declare it the state's worst outbreak since the start of the pandemic and warn that a lockdown in the capital Brisbane might be extended beyond Sunday.

"If we don't do something really, really, really special in Queensland, we'll be extending the lockdown," Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young told reporters in Brisbane.