Australia’s most populous state of New South Wales (NSW) has continued to brush-off calls for a lockdown despite an increase in locally acquired Covid-19 cases.

The number of cases linked to a cluster in a suburb in Sydney’s east rose to 36, the state’s Health Department said on Thursday.

Among the new positive cases was NSW Agricultural Minister Adam Marshall, which implicated a number of government officials as close contacts, including NSW Health Minister Brad Hazard who is now isolating at home, reports Xinhua news agency.

Despite increasing local cases, the authorities continued to dismiss the need for a lockdown in Sydney.

“I don’t believe that we will go into a lockdown. I’ve made that point, I think we actually need to take health advice. And the health advice is that the new orders that came into play yesterday afternoon are proportionate to our risk,” said Hazard.

He stressed that people need to be “extremely cautious” and follow orders due to the increased virility of this variant of the virus.

At the same time, the neighbouring state of Victoria has declared Greater Sydney and Wollongong as red zones from 1 a.m. Friday facing the growing outbreak in NSW, which means high Covid-19 transmission risks and non-Victorian residents from these areas are not allowed to enter the state without an exception.

A man in his 60s in Victoria tested positive after returning from Sydney on Sunday night.

Some other states and territories also have tightened their border restrictions to Sydney. Western Australia and South Australia have restrictions in place for the entire state, while Queensland and Victoria have blocked travel from large parts of Sydney.

–IANS

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