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Australia heads for lowest daily infections in three months

SYDNEY: Australia looked set to record its lowest daily increase in new coronavirus cases in three months yesterday as a hard lockdown in the city of Melbourne brought the country's virus numbers down sharply.

The second-most populous state Victoria, of which Melbourne is the capital, reported 14 new infections in the 24 hours to yesterday morning, down from 21 new cases the day prior and its lowest since June 19.

That put Victoria, which has spent months under lockdown to slow a second wave of infections, on track to meet a target of keeping average daily increases below 50 by Sept 28 when the authorities have said they may lift restrictions.

Australia's biggest state New South Wales, which has Sydney as the capital, reported two new cases, while Queensland state also reported two, bringing the national total to 18, the lowest tally since June 23.

"There will of course always be debates about timing and whether we're on schedule, ahead of schedule, all of those things, (but) ultimately these numbers are cause for great optimism and positivity," Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said.

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Meanwhile, South Korea yesterday extended level 2 social distancing for a week until Sept 27. This limits indoor gatherings to below 50 and outdoor to less than 100. The country may tighten limits for the Chuseok holiday when people traditionally reunite with families. The holiday is from Sept 30 to Oct 2.

South Korea reported 82 cases as of midnight on Saturday, the lowest daily number of new infections since mid-August. - REUTERS

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