The world watched as Australia was celebrated for its Covid success. And the world is watching now, months on, as the pandemic threatens to explode in Sydney.
NSW recorded another 50 cases of community transmission on Saturday — the highest daily number since the latest outbreak began after Thursday's record of 38 and Friday's record of 44.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian said, "Things are going to get worse before they get better."
On Friday, she was forced to make some significant changes that authorities hope can stop the Delta virus from spreading out of control.
She introduced new rules including a cap on outdoor gatherings at two people, a 10km travel radius for residents of Greater Sydney, a ban on browsing in shops for non-essential items and a limit on funerals meaning only 10 people can attend.
The news dominated headlines in Australia on Friday and international media followed suit.
The Washington Post noted Sydney's new lockdown rules had come at what it called "the scariest time since the pandemic began".
"Unless numbers started coming down, authorities would likely extend the lockdown beyond next Friday," the Post story read.
"[Berejiklian] said the message was that people could not leave home unless it was absolutely necessary."
The story was among the most read on British news website the BBC on Friday, too.
"Sydney will face harsher Covid restrictions after a surge in cases showed current measures had not worked to stop the spread of the virus," the BBC wrote.
"Australia's largest city reported 44 new cases on Friday, and said a high number of people in the community had been exposed."
The BBC mentioned the 10km ban and the limit on gathering for funerals — a rule that mirrored restrictions in Melbourne during recent lockdowns.
"The New South Wales state government on Friday acknowledged the rules were 'shocking' but said the increased number of cases after the city was put in lockdown on 26 June had made it necessary," the BBC wrote.
CNN covered the story in a wrap that made mention of two global cities introducing protection measures on the same day — Sydney and Seoul in South Korea.
"From Friday, people in Sydney can only shop for essentials, are not allowed to exercise in groups of more than two and may not leave a 10-kilometre radius from their homes unless necessary," CNN wrote.
Even Washington-based political news powerhouse The Hill wrote about Sydney's predicament.
"New South Wales reported 18 new Covid-19 infections Tuesday. Only 11 of those individuals, however, were in isolation for the entire time they were infectious," authors wrote.
"Most of the cases reported during this outbreak in Sydney have reportedly been traced to people under 40 and those who are not vaccinated."
Sydney's new lockdown was introduced as the Delta variant continues to spread.
"Do not leave your home unless you absolutely have to," Berejiklian told Sydney's five million residents.
Greater Sydney is now in its third week of lockdown, but continues to post record new infections among a population that is overwhelmingly unvaccinated.
Berejiklian tried to shock NSW residents into compliance on Friday, warning they were facing the greatest threat to their safety "since the pandemic started" following a lack of adherence to stay-at-home rules.
Sydney has seen 439 new infections since mid-June.
"We do not have the luxury of considering living with this virus," Berejiklian warned, adding residents "need to turn the tide" if thousands of deaths are to be avoided.
"What we need is for everyone to follow the rules that are in place," said Berejiklian. "This strain, the Delta strain, is more contagious than anything we have seen."
— with AFP