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Australia’s COVID-19 cases on the rise as masks made compulsory

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SYDNEY (Reuters) -Australia’s most-populous state of New South Wales (NSW) reported eight new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, while neighbouring Victoria’s tally increased by three, as new measures to combat the disease kicked in.

The NSW outbreak started around mid-December in Sydney’s Northern Beaches area, where a quarter of a million people are in strict lockdown until Jan. 9. Cases associated with the cluster now total 148.

A smaller cluster in the west of the city, linked to a different genome sequence, has 13 confirmed cases. But the state’s chief health officer, Kerry Chant, said authorities are worried as recent transmission at a liquor store occurred with “fleeting” exposure.

“We know these transmission events have happened through very minimal exposure. We are asking members of the community who did purchase alcohol or enter that premises for that period to be very vigilant,” Chant told reporters.

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