Australian leaders will hold an emergency meeting on Monday after a spike in Covid infections.
An outbreak in Sydney linked to the highly contagious Delta variant has grown to 128 cases.
Cases have also been recorded within the Northern Territory, Queensland, and Western Australia.
Officials say it’s a “critical time” for the country, which has kept case numbers low with border closures and lockdowns.
This is the primary time in months that cases have emerged in multiple parts of the country at an equivalent time.
“I think we’re entering a replacement phase of this pandemic, with the more contagious Delta strain,” Treasurer Josh Frydenberg told ABC News on Monday.
The escalation in Covid infections has prompted lockdowns within the cities of Sydney and Darwin, also as restrictions across four states.
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The situation remains most concerning in Sydney, where some 5 million residents are subject to a stay-at-home order.
The New South Wales (NSW) government on Sunday expanded a lockdown to hide all of Greater Sydney, the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, and Wollongong.
Many businesses and venues are ordered shut.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Monday reported 18 new cases, down from the 30 reported the previous day. Nearly 59,000 people had been tested within the past 24 hours.
“We need to be prepared for the numbers to bounce around and that we need to be prepared for the numbers to travel up considerably because with this strain, we are seeing almost 100% of transmission within households,” she said.
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard has described the Delta variant which was first detected in India as a “very formidable foe”.
“No matter what defensive steps we’re taking at the instant, the virus seems to know the way to counter-attack,” he said.