Infections in Australia's hard-hit Victoria show downward trend

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SYDNEY: Australia recorded a further 17 coronavirus deaths yesterday, but infections in the hard-hit state of Victoria - the site of all the latest deaths - are showing a downward trend, the authorities said.

Other than in Victoria, which accounts for more than 80 per cent of Australia's Covid-19 deaths because of a second wave of infections, the country has largely avoided the high casualty numbers of many nations with about 24,500 infections and 502 deaths.

Globally, nearly 5,900 people are dying every 24 hours from Covid-19 on average, according to a Reuters tally, with the United States, Brazil and India leading the rise in fatalities.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said the state, which is almost halfway through a six-week lockdown, had confirmed 208 new infections in the preceding 24 hours.

That was higher than the 182 new cases reported on Saturday but was still lower than the weekly average, he said.

"We're going to defeat this second wave," Mr Andrews told reporters.

"And then we'll be able to begin the process of opening up. Exactly when that is, we can't give people a definitive date. But... my aim is to round out the year with something - a Covid normal."

Mr Andrews said 11 of the 17 deaths confirmed yesterday were linked to outbreaks at aged care facilities.

In the state capital Melbourne, production of reality TV series The Masked Singer was halted after several crew members tested positive for the virus, the ViacomCBS-owned free-to-air broadcaster Ten Network said in a social media post.

New South Wales, Australia's most populous state, and the north-eastern state of Queensland reported five new cases combined yesterday. Western Australia reported one new infection, the first confirmed case since Wednesday.

As the spread of the disease slows, state and federal governments have been discussing easing the cap on returning Australians of 4,000 a week to help repatriate those stranded overseas, the Sydney Morning Herald reported yesterday.

In neighbouring New Zealand, the health authorities reported three new positive cases yesterday. - REUTERS