A woman walks along a deserted city bridge during morning commute hours in the state of Victoria. Image Credit: REUTERS

Canberra: Australia will introduce at-home testing for COVID-19 from November 1, as cases in Victoria surged past those in New South Wales, the country’s most populous state, for the first time since July.

Regulatory agency Therapeutic Goods Administration recommended the at-home testing, Health Minister Greg Hunt said Tuesday. Some 76.7% of Australians have now received their first dose of a vaccine, he added.

“Obviously subject to individual tests being approved as being safe and effective, this is an important additional protection for Australians,” Hunt told reporters.

Sydney has been at the epicenter of a delta outbreak that’s forced the city into lockdown for months, spreading to Melbourne and as far as New Zealand.

New South Wales on Tuesday reported 863 new local cases and seven deaths, while Victoria reported 867 cases and four deaths. Victoria, the second most populous state, also reached the 80% threshold for first shots.

Queensland reported four local cases, and said one Australian man died in hotel quarantine, without elaborating as to the cause. Authorities in the tropical state reinstated mandatory mask wearing at all times, both indoors and outdoors.