Coronavirus: New South Wales records 344 new cases, man in 30s dies, Victoria reports 20

New South Wales has recorded 344 new community cases of COVID-19, with at least 65 infectious while in the community.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said there has been a surge in the number of cases recently and that is expected to continue, but there has been some decline in cases in several districts. 

NSW Health also reports that there have been two deaths in Sydney, including a man in his 30s who had underlying health conditions. A man in his 90s who was unvaccinated also died.

Of the locally acquired cases, "115 are linked to a known case or cluster - 97 household contacts & 18 are close contacts - and the source of infection for 229 cases is under investigation," NSW Health said.

"One hundred and forty-three cases were in isolation throughout their infectious period and 36 were in isolation for part of their infectious period. Sixty-five cases were infectious in the community, and the isolation status of 100 remains under investigation."

Victoria reported 20 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, a steady rate of increase. Melbourne's lockdown has also been extended by another week.

Six of the diagnosed people spent time in the community while infectious, a key measure that officials have said needs to be close to zero before lockdowns in both Melbourne and Sydney can be lifted.

Victoria was plunged into its sixth lockdown since the pandemic began on August 5, just weeks after exiting its last.

Meanwhile, Queensland on Wednesday recorded four new local cases, all connected to a known cluster. The state has decided to end a lockdown in Cairns in the afternoon.

Australia has so far fared much better than many other countries in the developed world during the pandemic, with just under 37,000 COVID-19 cases and 942 deaths.

However, the lockdowns in its two largest cities are derailing the country's plans for an economic rebound from the pandemic, with some economists forecasting its second recession in as many years.

Victoria state authorities lifted restrictions in regions outside Melbourne earlier this week after a slowdown in new cases.

Reuters / Newshub.