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A man wearing a protective face mask walks past a usually busy market in the city centre during a lockdown to curb the spread of a coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak in Sydney August 31, 2021. — Reuters pic
A man wearing a protective face mask walks past a usually busy market in the city centre during a lockdown to curb the spread of a coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak in Sydney August 31, 2021. — Reuters pic

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SYDNEY, Sept 1 — Australia’s Victoria state saw a jump in new locally acquired cases of Covid-19 today as the government prepared to extend a hard lockdown, while neighbouring New South Wales (NSW) brought forward its vaccination target date.

Residents in Victoria, where a lockdown is due to end tomorrow, are waiting to learn for how long the tough restrictions will be extended, after the state reported 120 new local cases, up from 76 a day earlier.

Victoria entered into a lockdown soon after the first case was detected in early August but infections have risen steadily over the past four weeks.

State Premier Daniel Andrews has flagged the lockdown will remain but promised to ease some curbs if cases remained low and vaccination rates rose.

A total of 1,116 new cases were detected in New South Wales, down from 1,164 a day earlier.

State Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the state could reach a 70 per cent vaccination rate by the middle of next month from the initial target of the end of October, as the outbreaks have spurred a surge in inoculation.

“If you are a business, start dusting off your Covid safety plan. Make sure your employees are vaccinated so we can get back to life at 70 per cent double-dose vaccination,” Berejiklian told reporters in Sydney, the state capital. So far 37 per cent of people in the state above 16 years of age are fully vaccinated.

NSW reported four new deaths taking the total number of deaths in the latest outbreak to 100.

Australia is trying to get a handle on the third wave of infections that has locked down more than half of its 25 million population. Sydney and Melbourne, its largest cities, and capital Canberra are in weeks-long strict stay-at-home orders.

Despite the recent flare-ups, it has managed to keep its coronavirus numbers relatively low, with just over 55,000 cases and 1,012 deaths. — Reuters

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