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Australia virus hotspot state records lowest new cases since June

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The Australian state at the centre of the country’s novel coronavirus outbreak on Saturday reported its lowest daily increase of infections in three months, putting it on course to relax a hard lockdown in the capital city by the end of the month.

Victoria, Australia’s second most populous state and home to a quarter of its 25 million people, recorded 21 new cases of COVID-19 in the prior 24 hours, less than half the previous day’s number and its lowest since June 24.

None of the seven other Australian states and territories had reported new case numbers but all except Victoria have reported single-digit or no case increases for weeks.

Victoria also reported seven new deaths related to the virus, taking the national total to 844, according to government figures. The state has had 90% of Australia’s coronavirus-related deaths.

Australia has reported just under 26,900 infections. The country had largely escaped the high casualty numbers of many others as the virus swept the world but a second wave of infections in Victoria has put the country on high alert and prompted most states to close their internal borders.

The Victorian capital, Melbourne, has been under one of the toughest lockdowns including a nightly curfew, but the state government has said it will let construction sites, manufacturing plants, warehouses and childcare facilities reopen on Sept. 28 if increases in average daily cases stay below 50.

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