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Australia’s coronavirus death toll surges

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An Australian state reported a record 59 deaths on Friday, the highest ever daily total for the country, including previously unrecorded fatalities in aged care homes over the past several weeks.

The increase fatalities in Victoria state pushed the country’s death toll to 737 as the national cabinet – made up of Prime Minister Scott Morrison and state and territory leaders – met to thrash out differences over internal border closures.

The Victorian capital of Melbourne has been responsible for the bulk of recent COVID-19 cases under Australia’s second wave of infections.

It reported 81 new infections on Friday, along with the 59 deaths. Those fatalities included 50 people who died in aged care facilities in July and August, the state health department said in a tweet.

The national death toll now stands at 737, while there have been around 26,100 infections.

Morrison’s federal government is pushing state and territory governments to reopen borders as Australia tackles its first recession in almost 30 years. The national cabinet meeting is expected to discuss the potential of an agreed definition across the country for virus “hotspots”.

Melbourne is nearing the end of a six-week lockdown put in place to slow the spread of the virus but state authorities have said restrictions may continue. 

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