Australia’s covid-free status crumbles as delta variant takes hold

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A pedestrian wearing a face mask in Sydney during a lockdown in July 2021

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The highly infectious delta coronavirus variant has broken through Australia’s covid-19 defences and sparked the worst outbreak in Sydney since the beginning of the pandemic.

Until this week, Australia had made it through 2021 without a single death from locally acquired covid-19. Community cases were mostly kept at zero by banning international visitors and quarantining all Australians returning from overseas, and life was largely back to normal in the country.

But a new outbreak, which began …

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