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Australia’s Victoria reports lowest rise in COVID-19 cases in nearly two months

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Australia’s second-most populous state of Victoria on Thursday reported 23 deaths from the new coronavirus in the last 24 hours and 113 new cases, its lowest daily rise in nearly two months.

The southeastern state, which has become the country’s virus hotspot, a day earlier reported its second-most deadly day of the pandemic with 24 deaths and logged 149 cases.

Strict lockdown measures have helped ease the daily rise of coronavirus infections in Victoria after the state hit a one-day high of more than 700 cases about three weeks ago.

Neighbouring New Zealand on Thursday said it has allocated extra funding of “hundreds of millions of dollars” to help secure access to a coronavirus vaccine as soon as one becomes available.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern declined to specify the total amount that will be spent on procuring the vaccine citing commercial sensitive reasons.

Last week, Australia signed a deal with British drugmaker AstraZeneca to produce and distribute enough doses of a potential coronavirus vaccine that it plans to roll out cost-free to its population of 25 million.

Australia has so far reported just over 25,300 cases and 572 deaths from the virus, while New Zealand recorded more than 1,300 cases and 22 deaths. 

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