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Healthcare workers administer Covid-19 tests at a drive-through testing centre in Melbourne, Australia May 28, 2021. ― Reuters file pic
Healthcare workers administer Covid-19 tests at a drive-through testing centre in Melbourne, Australia May 28, 2021. ― Reuters file pic

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MELBOURNE, Aug 28 ― Victoria, Australia’s second most populous state, reported 64 new locally acquired Covid-19 cases in the 24-hour period to yesterday evening, health officials said today.

Australia, still largely unvaccinated, has been battling a surge of cases involving the highly infectious coronavirus Delta variant. More than half of all Australians have been in weeks-long lockdowns as officials in Sydney and Melbourne, the country’s largest cities, and the capital Canberra struggle to quell the virus.

New South Wales, where the outbreak is the largest, yesterday recorded 882 new cases, most of them in the state capital Sydney, down from the record 1,029 on Thursday.

Still, with some 48,800 cases and 991 deaths recorded since the start of the pandemic, Australia has kept its Covid-19 numbers relatively low. So far, 32 per cent of people above age 16 have been fully vaccinated, although the pace of vaccinations has picked up significantly in recent weeks. Based on current rates, Australia should hit 80 per cent by mid-November.

The federal government announced last month a plan that envisaged lockdowns as a key strategy to quell outbreaks until 70 per cent of the population gets vaccinated and a gradual re-opening of Australia’s borders when that number reaches 80 per cent.

Of the new cases reported today in Victoria, 36 people were in quarantine during their infectious period, the state’s health department said on Twitter. While most cases are linked to existing outbreaks, 15 were of unknown origin. ― Reuters

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