The remote Outback town of Alice Springs has become the latest Australian region to enter a lockdown as the delta variant spreads across the country, sparking criticism of the government’s tardy vaccine rollout.

The outbreak in the town of about 25,000 people in the center of Australia, believed to have emerged from a mining site, is raising fears that the nation’s vulnerable indigenous population is now facing its greatest threat from the pandemic.

"I know it is sudden and shocking — I am sorry about that, but we cannot afford to wait a minute longer,” Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner told reporters on Wednesday while announcing the 72-hour snap lockdown. He urged indigenous communities to remain calm, saying they would be supplied with groceries and medicines.