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Australia airs COVID fears after anti-lockdown protest

"In relation to yesterday's protests, can I say how absolutely disgusted I was. It broke my heart," Gladys Berejiklian, the premier of the country's most populous state, told reporters.

There were 141 COVID-19 cases reported, down from 163 a day earlier. The outbreak, which began in June, is being driven by the highly contagious Delta variant of the virus, and has now infected 2,081 people in New South Wales. There are 43 people in intensive care, up from 37 a day earlier.

Numbers of such cases have stayed stubbornly high even after four weeks of lockdown in Sydney, now expected to be extended beyond July 30.

Despite its struggle with spikes of infections, Australia has managed to keep its epidemic largely under control with a total of about 32,600 cases and 918 deaths.

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