Australian leaders were holding emergency talks on Monday as states and territories sought to stamp out new clusters of coronavirus infections.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison called an urgent federal cabinet meeting and will meet with state and territory leaders in the evening, Australian news agency AAP reported.
Four states and territories have recorded new cases and three of the country’s state capitals have imposed lockdowns or tight restrictions, according to AAP.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg told broadcaster ABC on Monday that it was a “critical time” for Australia and that the world is entering a “new phase” of pandemic with the more contagious Delta strain.
Australia’s most populated state of New South Wales recently reintroduced restrictions, including a two-week stay-at-home order for Sydney and its surrounding areas that came into force on Saturday.
NSW Health recorded 18 new local cases in the last 24-hour reporting period, 88 cases are being treated in the state in total.
In the Northern Territory, Greater Darwin is in lockdown until Friday over a cluster of cases linked to a worker at a gold mine, while in Western Australia the Perth and Peel regions are under restrictions for at least three days after a woman tested positive on her return from New South Wales, broadcaster ABC reported.
Australia has managed so far to largely stave off the pandemic with extremely strict measures, including by keeping its international border closed with few exceptions since March 2020.
The country has recorded around 30,000 cases and 900 deaths since the pandemic began.