Sydney tightens lockdown as cases rise

Tougher lockdown restrictions for Sydney as COVID-19 cases continued to rise three weeks into a citywide lockdown.

The Australian city on Saturday (July 17) ordered a shutdown of building sites, banned non-essential retail and threatened fines for employers who make staff come into the office.

Authorities in New South Wales state, of which Sydney is the capital, also banned hundreds of thousands of people in the city's western suburbs - the worst affected area - from leaving their immediate neighbourhoods for work.

It came as they reported 111 new cases in the previous 24 hours, up from 97 the day before.

The state also recorded an additional death - bring its total to three since the start of the year and 913 nationally since the pandemic began.

New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian:

"We've certainly prevented thousands and thousands of cases but we haven't managed to quash the curve and that's why the New South Wales government is taking further action from today."

The city of five million people, Australia's largest, has been under lockdown since June 26, with a planned end date of July 30.

That's after an airport transit driver brought the virus into the community and sparked an outbreak of a highly infectious variant, according to the authorities.

More than 1,000 people in the city and surrounding districts have since tested positive.

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