Australia’s Victoria state reports lowest rise in COVID-19 cases in seven weeks

The Australian state of Victoria reported its lowest daily rise in new coronavirus infections in seven weeks on Monday, fuelling optimism that a deadly second wave there is subsiding. Victoria on Monday reported 116 cases and 15 deaths from the virus in the past 24 hours, down from a peak of more than 700 cases early this month. Australia saw a surge in infections in the past month in Melbourne, Victoria’s capital and the country’s second-largest city, but cases have been trending downward in recent days helped by a total lockdown. While the Melbourne lockdown has curtailed the spread of infections, it has wreaked havoc on the economy with Australia’s effective unemployment rate expected to climb above 13% by the end of September, according to government estimates. Nearly half a million people could lose their jobs due to the full lockdown in Melbourne, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said on Sunday. Neighbouring New Zealand on Monday will take a decision on whether to ease the current coronavirus restrictions in its biggest city of Auckland. An abrupt resurgence of COVID-19 about two weeks ago in Auckland prompted New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to put the city’s 1.7 million residents in a lockdown until Wednesday, forcing businesses to close and schools to shut. New Zealand, which has a population of 5 million, has so far recorded just over 1,300 confirmed cases of the virus and 22 deaths. Australia has detected nearly 25,000 infections and reported 502 deaths, from a population of 25 million. New Zealand and Australia have avoided the high fatalities experienced by many other nations due to strict lockdown measures.

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