A Covid outbreak in Sydney linked to the highly contagious Delta strain has grown to 110 cases, while infections emerged in other parts of the country.
Small outbreaks have been recorded in the Northern Territory, Queensland and Western Australia states.
This is the first time in months that cases have emerged in various parts of Australia.
Federal and state governments will hold emergency talks about the situation on Monday.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said it was "a critical time" for the nation, as various states shut borders and enacted new restrictions to prevent further spread.
"I think we're entering a new phase of this pandemic, with the more contagious Delta strain," Mr Frydenberg told ABC News on Monday.
The escalation in Covid infections has prompted lockdowns in the cities of Sydney and
Darwin, as well as restrictions across four states.
Global report: rise in Delta variant cases forces tougher restrictions
Moscow has recorded the highest Covid-19 daily death toll of any Russian city so far, as the highly contagious Delta variant forced tougher restrictions on countries across the Asia-Pacific region and fuelled mounting concern over holiday travel in Europe.
Vaccinations have brought infection numbers down in many wealthy countries, and curbs on daily life continue to ease in much of the EU and US, but experts warn the fast-spreading strain means the pandemic – while slowing globally – is far from over.
The World Health Organization this weekend registered the lowest number of cases worldwide since February, but cautioned that the Delta variant, now present in 92 countries, is driving a deadly new wave in countries from Indonesia to Russia.
US strikes hit Iran-backed militia facilities in Iraq and Syria
The US has carried out airstrikes against Iran-backed militia in Iraq and Syria, in response to drone attacks against US personnel and facilities in Iraq.
The strikes on Sunday targeted operational and weapons storage facilities at two locations in Syria and one location in Iraq, the Pentagon said.
The Pentagon press secretary, John Kirby, described the airstrikes as “defensive”, saying they were launched in response to an “ongoing series of attacks by Iran-backed groups targeting US interests in Iraq”.
“The United States took necessary, appropriate and deliberate action designed to limit the risk of escalation – but also to send a clear and unambiguous deterrent message,” Kirby said.
Sunday’s strikes mark the second time the Biden administration has taken military action in the region. In February, the US launched airstrikes against facilities in Syria, near the Iraqi border, that it said were used by Iranian-backed militia groups.
Erdogan takes first step in controversial Istanbul canal project
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has taken the first step in the construction of a canal on the western edge of Istanbul, amid concerns over the environmental and economic effects of the project.
“Today we are opening a new page in the history of Turkey’s development,” Erdogan said on Saturday at a ground-breaking ceremony of Sazlidere Bridge over the planned route.
“We see Canal Istanbul as a project to save the future of Istanbul … to ensure the safety of life and property of Istanbul’s Bosphorus and the citizens around it,” he said.
The government has said that the project will ease ship traffic and reduce the risk of accidents in the Bosphorus Strait – one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes – which links the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea.
Dubbed by Erdogan as his “crazy project” when he first suggested building the canal in 2011, the 45km (28-mile)-long project linking the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea to the west of the Bosphorus includes the construction of new seaports, bridges, businesses, housing districts and artificial lakes.
The canal, estimated to cost $15bn, is expected to be completed within six years, Erdogan said.
Biden walks back veto threat on bipartisan infrastructure deal
US President Joe Biden has endorsed a fragile bipartisan deal on infrastructure “without hesitation”, walking back from a threat to veto the plan if Congress failed to also pass a larger package to expand the country’s social safety net.
Biden said on Saturday that he did not mean to suggest in earlier remarks that he would veto the nearly $1 trillion infrastructure bill unless Congress also passed a $4 trillion package that he and fellow Democrats aim to approve along party lines.
Speaking on Thursday moments after fulfilling his hopes of reaching a bipartisan accord, Biden appeared to put the deal in jeopardy with his comment that the infrastructure bill would have to move in “tandem” with the larger bill.
Though Biden had been clear he would pursue the massive new spending for child care, Medicare and other investments, Republicans baulked at the president’s notion that he would not sign one without the other.
“If this is the only thing that comes to me, I’m not signing it,” Biden said then of the infrastructure bill. “It’s in tandem.”
By Saturday, Biden was seeking to clarify those comments.