Australia's largest state hits record-high COVID-19 cases despite weeks of strict lockdown. 'It's a tinderbox ready to explode,' one official said.

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Australia's largest state hits record-high COVID-19 cases despite weeks of strict lockdown. 'It's a tinderbox ready to explode,' one official said.
A health worker takes a swab sample at a Covid-19 drive-through testing site in western Sydney on August 7, 2021 SAEED KHAN/AFP via Getty Images
  • Australia's largest state has record numbers of new COVID-19 cases despite weeks in lockdown.
  • New South Wales recorded 1,029 new infections on Wednesday, driven by the Delta variant.
  • Health officials extended lockdown on Thursday. An official called it a "tinderbox ready to explode."

Australia's largest state has more COVID-19 cases than ever before, despite weeks of strict lockdown.

New South Wales, home to Australia's capital city Sydney, recorded 1,029 new infections on Wednesday, according to official statistics, which is the most new daily cases in any state or territory in Australia since the start of the pandemic.

State health officials said Thursday that a strict lockdown - which has been in place to varying degrees of severity since June 26 - would be extended until at least September 10. New South Wales' deputy premier, John Barilaro, said: "We're sitting on a knife edge. It's a tinderbox ready to explode."

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The aim is to get 70% to 80% of people fully vaccinated before opening up, officials said.

About 94% of the 14,040 Australians currently infected with COVID-19 are in New South Wales, federal data showed.

The current outbreak is largely driven by the highly infectious Delta variant, which was first detected in the Bondi Beach region of Sydney on June 16.

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Since then, New South Wales has recorded 15,684 COVID-19 cases, mostly in those aged 20 to 29, state data shows. There have been 79 deaths, mostly in people over 60 years old.

Read more: Experts explain why the mRNA tech that revolutionized COVID-19 vaccines could be the answer to incurable diseases, heart attacks, and even snake bites: 'The possibilities are endless'

Right now, people living in New South Wales can only leave their house if they have a reasonable excuse, which can include food shopping, essential work, exercise and providing medical care. People cannot visit anybody from outside their household, including family or friends.

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People living in some areas with the highest number of cases face even tougher measures. They can only exercise for one hour per day, for example.

According to state data, about 10% of the 836,000 people in New South Wales are vaccinated.

Overall, 25.5% of Australians are fully vaccinated, according to Johns Hopkins University. The world average is 25%. For comparison, 51.7% of Americans are fully-vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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