The Australian state of New South Wales on Monday reported its highest daily number of coronavirus cases since the pandemic began, as infections driven by the Delta variant continued to surge and millions remained in lockdown.
New South Wales, the country’s most populous state, reported 1,290 cases, and the authorities said that they expected infections and intensive-care hospitalizations to continue to rise until peaking in October.
“Our hospital system is under pressure,” Gladys Berejiklian, the premier of New South Wales, told reporters in Sydney, the state capital and a city of more than five million people. “We will need to manage things differently.”
Ms. Berejiklian added that vaccination was the key to increasing freedoms and reducing the spread of the virus.
Victoria, the country’s second-most populous state, reported 73 new cases of the virus. Melbourne, the state capital, is now in its sixth lockdown, making it among the most locked-down places in the world. Combined, the lockdowns have lasted more than 200 days.
“We’re in a very challenging position right now,” Victoria’s chief health officer, Brett Sutton, told reporters in Melbourne on Monday.
As the outbreak has grown, so, too, have concerns that Australia’s vulnerable Indigenous population could be disproportionately affected.
Understand Vaccine and Mask Mandates in the U.S.
- Vaccine rules. On Aug. 23, the Food and Drug Administration granted full approval to Pfizer-BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine for people 16 and up, paving the way for an increase in mandates in both the public and private sectors. Private companies have been increasingly mandating vaccines for employees. Such mandates are legally allowed and have been upheld in court challenges.
- Mask rules. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in July recommended that all Americans, regardless of vaccination status, wear masks in indoor public places within areas experiencing outbreaks, a reversal of the guidance it offered in May. See where the C.D.C. guidance would apply, and where states have instituted their own mask policies. The battle over masks has become contentious in some states, with some local leaders defying state bans.
- College and universities. More than 400 colleges and universities are requiring students to be vaccinated against Covid-19. Almost all are in states that voted for President Biden.
- Schools. Both California and New York City have introduced vaccine mandates for education staff. A survey released in August found that many American parents of school-age children are opposed to mandated vaccines for students, but were more supportive of mask mandates for students, teachers and staff members who do not have their shots.
- Hospitals and medical centers. Many hospitals and major health systems are requiring employees to get a Covid-19 vaccine, citing rising caseloads fueled by the Delta variant and stubbornly low vaccination rates in their communities, even within their work force.
- New York City. Proof of vaccination is required of workers and customers for indoor dining, gyms, performances and other indoor situations, although enforcement does not begin until Sept. 13. Teachers and other education workers in the city’s vast school system will need to have at least one vaccine dose by Sept. 27, without the option of weekly testing. City hospital workers must also get a vaccine or be subjected to weekly testing. Similar rules are in place for New York State employees.
- At the federal level. The Pentagon announced that it would seek to make coronavirus vaccinations mandatory for the country’s 1.3 million active-duty troops “no later” than the middle of September. President Biden announced that all civilian federal employees would have to be vaccinated against the coronavirus or submit to regular testing, social distancing, mask requirements and restrictions on most travel.
An Aboriginal man in his 50s became the first Indigenous person to die of Covid-19, in Western New South Wales, a spokeswoman for the local health district confirmed on Monday.
Though Australia is battling its most severe outbreak so far, daily cases are still relatively low compared with those in many other countries. Four people per 100,000 are becoming sickened per day with the coronavirus in Australia. In the United States, that figure is 47, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
For now, international borders and some state borders in Australia remain closed, but some airlines have begun preparing to reopen. On Monday, Virgin Australia announced that it planned to require all its staff to be vaccinated by March.
In other developments around the globe:
The Zhangjiajie Hehua International Airport, in Hunan Province, China, resumed flights on Monday after being shut down for a month to contain an outbreak of the Delta variant. As cases spread over the country in the past two months, the authorities locked down several cities, requiring several million residents to stay home and participate in rounds of testing.
The government of South Korea announced on Monday plans to hand out a fifth round of Covid-19 emergency relief funds, this time to people in the bottom 88 percent of the nation’s income bracket. The packages of up to $215 per person will be distributed starting early next week and must be used by the end of this year. Recipients can use the money for food or other necessities, but not at department stores or entertainment facilities or on delivery apps.
The authorities in New Zealand reported what could be the country’s first Pfizer vaccine-related death: A woman died of myocarditis, an inflammation in the heart muscle, shortly after receiving her shot. According to New Zealand’s Covid-19 Vaccine Independent Safety Monitoring Board, myocarditis is a rare side effect of the Pfizer vaccine. Although the cause of death has not been confirmed by the coroner, a news release by officials stated that this “is the first case in New Zealand where a death in the days following vaccination has been linked to the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine.”
The health authorities in Denmark recommended on Monday that people with severe immune deficiency get a booster dose of a coronavirus vaccine. The authorities have also announced that, because of the high rate of inoculation in the country, the digital Covid pass that is currently required to enter places such as restaurants will be phased out, starting on Sept. 10. More than 80 percent of people over the age of 12 in Denmark are fully vaccinated, and the country aims to reach 90 percent by Oct. 1.
The Czech Republic will offer a booster Covid-19 vaccine shot from Sept. 20 to any previously vaccinated person, the country’s health minister, Adam Vojtech, said on Monday, according to Reuters. The country of 10.7 million, has been one of the countries worst hit by the pandemic as measured by deaths per population, with over 30,400 victims. Nearly 1.68 million Czechs have contracted the virus, and many more are estimated to have caught it without being tested.
Tiffany Mayand Jin Yu Young contributed reporting.