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Two states emerge from lockdown as NSW goes from bad to worse

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New South Wales has reported 172 new community-acquired cases – 60 of whom were infectious in the community – as the rampant outbreak continues to dominate Greater Sydney.

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The latest case numbers set an unwanted record for the outbreak that began in June. There are now 171 people in hospital with COVID-19 in NSW, including 46 in intensive care, 19 of those on a ventilator. Ten people have already died.

Amid speculation the Sydney lockdown could now continue until September, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian conceded the area of concern had shifted from the south-western suburbs to western suburbs.

A multi-storey apartment block in Blacktown has been locked down even further with a police guard to enforce two weeks of quarantine after six cases of COVID-19 were detected among around 100 residents.

The NSW Government has faced criticism for not acting sooner, and with harsher restrictions, to contain the outbreak of the more contagious Delta variant. It has exacerbated tensions between governments, even on the same side of politics.

While the Greater Sydney lockdown has yet to be extended beyond July, Berejiklian foreshadowed an announcement as early as tomorrow.

“I just ask everybody for their patience,” the Premier said.

“I know it’s a very difficult and frustrating time.”

Berejiklian lamented the fact new infections were being confirmed in people who had been around others.

“Time and time again, cases are popping up in workplaces, amongst workers in those critical places of employment but also in households and tragically I want to extend my condolences to the families and loved ones of the two older women who succumbed to the disease yesterday,” she said.

“Unfortunately they were household contacts that they got the disease from and they weren’t vaccinated.”

The NSW update came as Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews confirmed the end of his state’s lockdown, sparked by the spread of the Delta variant from Sydney.

“We are in no way triumphant, in no way boastful,” Andrews said.

“We are grateful for the work that so many have done and indeed that all Victorians have done but the significance of this today to be able to end this lockdown at midnight tonight and return to settings that are quite close to the settings before we went into this lockdown says to all Victorians, sends a clear message that we have seen off two Delta outbreaks.

“I don’t think there’s a jurisdiction in the world that has been able to achieve that and every Victorian should be proud of that.”

South Australia will also emerge from lockdown on Wednesday, but Queensland has yet to decide whether, or when, to lift restrictions on travel from those states.

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