Melbourne is set to endure a second week of lockdown as health authorities fret over the increased infectiousness of the so-called Indian coronavirus variant currently spreading in the state.
On Tuesday, contact tracers said they were seeing the virus jump to people who had "very fleeting" contact with an infected person – a concerning characteristic attributed to the variant.
To understand where Australia could be headed if the virus isn't controlled, it could be wise to look at the UK where spread of the same variant is threatening plans for England to emerge from lockdown restrictions later this month.
These two maps below show how the Indian coronavirus strain – renamed the 'delta' variant by the World Health Organisation this week - has spread in the last three weeks.
The left-hand map above shows where the delta variant cases were recorded on 1 May. This compares to the map below showing thousands more recorded cases by 22 May.
The B1.617.2 strain has brought a surge of new cases in areas of England, especially the North West, Midlands and South East.
Recent data suggests it could be 66 per cent more transmissible than the Kent, or 'alpha' variant, which wreaked havoc across the UK over the winter.
The variant's spread has cast doubt over whether planned lockdown lifting on 21 June can go ahead as planned and has sparked fears of an emerging third wave.
Overall, Covid-19 cases have been above 3,000 a day for the past six days.
But Public Health England announced on last week that delta variant cases had doubled in the space of a week to nearly 7,000.
At the time, prime minister Boris Johnson said the next steps for the country would depend on how robust its "vaccine fortifications" against the variant were.
"I don't see anything currently in the data to suggest that we have to deviate from the roadmap but we may need to wait," he said.
To date, the more than 39 million people in the UK have had a first vaccine dose – equating to almost 75 per cent of the adult population while 25 million have received both jabs.
Australia, meanwhile, languishes in the global vaccine race having fully vaccinated just over 2 per cent of its adult population with 4.4 million total doses administered.
with Yahoo News UK
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