Victoria sees single digit rise in cases for first time in 3 months

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MELBOURNE: Australia's coronavirus hot spot Victoria recorded a single digit rise in new cases for the first time in three months yesterday and lifted some of the state's tough restrictions, as it aims for near-normal conditions by Christmas.

Australia's second-most populous state reported just five new cases and three deaths in 24 hours, after daily cases had topped 700 in early last month.

That pushed a key indicator, the rolling 14-day average, to 20.9 cases, tracking ahead of state government expectations.

"That is a very, very significant set of numbers. We are well ahead of schedule," Premier Daniel Andrews told a daily press conference, anticipating a move to "Covid normal", where most restrictions are lifted.

However, he urged people to continue to follow strict social distancing rules, despite the rigours of an eight-week lockdown so far to curb the second-wave outbreak.

"If people don't do the right thing in the final few weeks of the lockdown, or if they lie about where they've been, there's no Covid-normal Christmas," he said.

Australia has reported just over 27,000 cases and 875 deaths, with Victoria accounting for about 75 per cent of infections and nearly 90 per cent of all deaths.

South Korea also recorded a drop in infections yesterday.

It reported 50 cases, of which 40 were domestic and 10 imported.

The numbers were the lowest since Aug 11, just before a new cluster emerged from a church whose members attended an anti-government rally in Seoul on Aug 15, which had boosted the daily tally to more than 440 late last month. - REUTERS