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Australia’s Byron Bay plunged into lockdown, officials fear Covid has spread from Sydney

Australian officials extended coronavirus restrictions to the coastal region of Byron Bay on Monday morning, amid concerns that the virus has spread from the capital city of New South Wales, Sydney, to the state’s northern tip.

The decision to expand lockdown measures to more areas of New South Wales comes despite Byron Bay and farming town Tamworth, which will be subject to seven days of restrictions, reporting no new cases of Covid. However, New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian took the step after two infected individuals travelled to those areas.

“I know they’re sick of it, I know they’re angry and I know they want it to stop and for life to get back to where they knew it,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said, addressing the extended restrictions.

What we have to do now is recognize the reality of the challenge we have in front of us. None of us likes it. None of us likes to have restrictions.

Sydney is now in its seventh week of lockdown restrictions, as health officials struggle to contain an outbreak of the highly transmissible Delta variant. New South Wales recorded 283 domestically acquired cases in the past 24 hours, a rise from the 262 cases reported on Saturday.

Victoria state, which neighbors New South Wales, is also in lockdown until at least August 12, having had restrictions imposed for the sixth time since the Covid pandemic broke out last year. Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews announced on Monday that his state will start to ease measures in the coming days, as Covid cases have plateaued.

Since the start of the pandemic, Australia has recorded 35,384 confirmed cases of the virus, with 927 fatalities due to Covid. Amid a slow rollout of the vaccine, the country has seen cases begin to rise in recent weeks, forcing parts of Australia, including its most populous cities, into lockdown to control the spread of the virus.