After people left Sydney ignoring the blockade, rural agricultural towns and beach resorts were on alert.

The Australian state of New South Wales has extended its COVID-19 lockdown to areas outside the country’s largest city, Sydney, because there are concerns that the epidemic caused by the more contagious delta virus may have spread to the rural hinterland of the state.

Governor Gladys Berejiklian announced the blockade of the agricultural town of Tamworth, about 414 kilometers (257 miles) northwest of Sydney, because of unauthorized access.

“As a precaution, health experts recommended that we lock down Tamworth for a week,” Berejiklian told reporters in Sydney.

After a Sydney man went to a beach resort about 767 kilometers to the north, officials also urged people in the Byron Bay area to be tested.

New South Wales has reported 283 locally infected COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, up from 262 cases a day ago.

Although Sydney has entered its seventh week, the state is still struggling to contain the surge in the highly contagious delta virus.

The neighbouring state of Victoria said it will relax some restrictions after reporting 11 new COVID-19 cases, the same as the previous day.

Most of the new cases have been passed in the community while contagious, but Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said the lockdown in Victoria will be lifted later on Monday.

He said that the state capital, Melbourne, will remain on lockdown — the sixth time since the pandemic began — at least until August 12.

In Brisbane, the capital of Queensland, authorities reported four new local cases on Monday, the first day after the city lifted home restrictions.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison came under fire for the slow introduction of the vaccine, and only 22% of Australians over 16 years of age were fully vaccinated.

An Australian newspaper poll showed that his public approval rating is the lowest since the devastating fire in southeastern Australia in early 2020.

Compared with other countries in the world, Australia has managed to keep its pandemic numbers relatively low. To date, it has reported approximately 36,250 cases and 939 deaths, including a woman in her 90s. Died in Sydney.

Neighboring New Zealand has had no community cases since February. It said on Monday that 11 of the 21 crew members on the container ship Rio De La Plata off the country’s northern coast had tested positive for COVID-19 .

As a precaution, 94 port workers who worked on the ship during their stay in the port are being contacted and stopped working until they return a negative test result.

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