More than half of all Australians now in lockdown

Australia's two largest states reported sharp increases in new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday (July 21),

with more than half the country's population now under stay-at-home orders.

New South Wales reported 110 new cases, up from 78 the day before, nearly four weeks into a lockdown of Sydney and surrounding areas to contain an outbreak of the Delta variant.

Victoria clocked 22 new cases and a third state, South Australia went into its first full day of a week-long lockdown on Wednesday.

A year and a half into the pandemic, the pressure's on the federal government- which has seen its polling at its lowest in a year due to a sluggish immunisation program.

Just over 11% of the population is fully vaccinated.

New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the lockdown end date of July 30 can only be reached if those numbers improve.

''We won't live as freely as we need to or would like until those vaccination rates increase. Now that is one thing the New South Wales government can't control. We can't control the doses we get.''

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Wednesday that he took responsibility for both delays in the country's vaccination rollout, as well as for the solutions to make up for lost ground.

He said his government has asked its independent expert panel to relax its advice on the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which has been recommended only for people over the age of 60.

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