Australia's Covid-19 cases edge higher, as New South Wales reports record daily rise

SYDNEY (REUTERS) – Australia’s New South Wales reported 633 locally acquired Covid-19 cases on Wednesday (Aug 18), its biggest daily rise in infections, as officials struggle to contain an outbreak of the highly infectious Delta variant in Sydney, the state capital.

The state had reported 478 cases, its previous daily high, on Monday. Authorities also announced three new deaths from the virus, taking the total number of deaths in the state from the latest outbreak to 60.

“What the data is telling us in the last few days is that we haven’t seen the worst of it,” New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters in Sydney.

The outbreak is spreading away from its epicentre in Sydney into other areas of the nation, forcing more than half of Australia’s 26 million population into lockdown. They include Melbourne, national capital Canberra, and more remote regions with high indigenous populations.

Victoria state, where Melbourne is the state capital, on Wednesday reported 24 locally acquired cases of Covid-19, the same number as a day earlier, as authorities race to track infections with an unknown source.

A total of four mystery cases, the ones whose source is still unidentified, were among the new infections, in line with the trend over the last several days. Of the new cases, six have spent time in the community while infectious.

The surge in cases is increasing pressure on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to ramp up the nation’s vaccination rollout.

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