Australia expands lockdowns as virus fight falters

Almost two-thirds of Australia’s 25 million people are under lockdown, as the country’s faltering bid to bring a virulent Delta outbreak to heel prompted a new wave of restrictions.

The country’s two largest cities received a double blow in their efforts to retain “Covid Zero” status, with authorities reporting a record number of new coronavirus infections in Sydney and imposing a sixth lockdown for virus-weary Melbourne.

In total, about 60 percent of the population — in cities from Brisbane to Ballarat — are now being told to stay at home.

Until now, Australia has dodged the worst ravages of the pandemic through a strategy of closing borders, lockdowns, mandatory travel quarantine, and aggressive testing and tracing.

But those tools appear blunted in the face of the highly transmissible Delta variant that is now threatening one of the world’s last havens from Covid.

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