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Australia’s COVID-19 hotspot expects fewer than 100 cases a day by next week

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Australia’s second most populous state – the epicentre of the country’s latest COVID-19 outbreak – said on Friday it expects to soon report just double digit daily rises in new infections, as a stringent lockdown slows the spread of the virus.

Victoria state said it has detected 113 new cases in the past 24 hours, unchanged from the previous day, and well below the one-day record of 725 cases reported in early August.

Authorities said they expect cases numbers to fall below 100 as soon as the weekend, four weeks into a six-week hard lockdown of around 5 million people in the state capital, Melbourne.

“It’s not gotten below 100 (per day) yet, I do expect that to happen, if not over the weekend, then by next week,” Victoria state Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton told reporters in Melbourne.

“It is helpful from a psychological point of view.”

Other Australian states have closed their borders to Victoria, a measure that authorities believe has stopped a nationwide second wave.

Still Australia’s most populous state, New South Wales on Friday said it has found 13 new cases, the biggest one-day rise in cases since Aug 13.

Queensland state was the only other state to report new infections, with three cases detected in the past 24 hours. Elsewhere the virus has been effectively eliminated.

The country has now recorded nearly 25,500 COVID-19 infections, while the death toll rose to 584 after 12 people died in Victoria.

In neighbouring New Zealand, where a cluster emerged earlier this month after more than 100 days without a community transmission, officials reported 12 new cases, seven of them people who have returned from overseas and already in quarantine.

New Zealand now has just over 1,700 COVID-19 infections, while 22 people have died from the virus. 

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