12 million to stay home in Australia as Delta Strain surges worldwide

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Melbourne

Australia’s second largest city was preparing to enter a fresh lockdown Thursday, as countries across the world struggle to quash surges in Covid-19 cases propelled by the highly infectious Delta variant.

The coronavirus continues to spread havoc from Asia to Africa and the battle against the disease is being hampered by new strains such as Delta, which was first seen in India.

The virus has reappeared in places long believed to have dodged the worst of the pandemic, with Australia — lauded for its successful “Covid zero” strategy — facing a resurgence that has grown to almost 1,000 cases nationwide in a month.

About 12 million Australians will be under stay-at-home orders by late Thursday as the country’s second biggest city Melbourne goes into a “hard and fast” lockdown, joining Sydney.

State premier Dan Andrews said he took the decision to return the city — and surrounding Victoria — to its fifth lockdown “with a heavy heart” but it was an “absolute necessity”. “Nothing about this virus is fair,” he said.

In Tokyo — now just over a week away from the opening ceremony of the virus-postponed Olympics — local authorities recorded 1,308 new cases, the highest number since January.

The virus is posing a unique challenge for Games organisers, who have been forced to ban spectators from almost all events and impose strict rules on visiting athletes.

Indonesia has been battered by a virus explosion that has overwhelmed hospitals, leaving scores to die at home as desperate relatives hunt for oxygen tanks to treat the sick © AFP / Agung Supriyanto.—AFP

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