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Epidemiologists call for Australia-wide response to Delta variant of COVID-19

CANBERRA, July 13 (Xinhua) -- Leading epidemiologists have called for Australia to adopt a national approach to fighting the Delta variant of COVID-19.

Mary-Louise McLaws, an epidemiologist who is a member of the World Health Organization's COVID-19 response team, said that relying on states and territories to suppress outbreaks of COVID-19 was putting the rest of Australia at risk.

She is one of a group of experts who have called for the federal government to implement national guidelines on when public health measures should be introduced to contain all new variants of coronavirus.

It comes after New South Wales (NSW) reported 112 locally acquired new cases of COVID-19 on Monday for the past 24 hours, prompting warnings that the Greater Sydney lockdown could endure for over a month.

McLaws warned that the NSW outbreak was spreading faster than Victoria's second wave of infections in mid-2020 that caused some 800 deaths and that containing a similar sized outbreak without a national approach could be impossible.

She said national rules could guide triggers for lockdowns.

"It would give a chance for authorities to quickly identify how fast and far that leak has gone and you don't get a situation like in NSW, where there has been a six-fold increase in cases in such a short period of time," McLaws was quoted by the Nine Entertainment newspapers on Tuesday.

"We need to start treating these variants of concern that are emerging with a great deal of respect."

Adrian Esterman, a professor of epidemiology at the University of South Australia, described the current state-led approach as "absolutely stupid" and urged authorities in NSW to introduce stricter restrictions such as ordering retail stores to close.

"Right now, Delta is punching holes in every deficiency in our strategy," said James Trauer, head of Monash University's epidemiological modelling unit. "We desperately need a national strategy." Enditem

[ Editor: JYZ ]