Australia Virus Hotspot Reports Slowdown in New Cases

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Victoria state, the epicenter of Australia’s pandemic, reported a slowdown in new cases in the past 24 hours, a further sign that strict lockdown measures are helping to get the virus under control.

There were 76 new Covid-19 infections in the country’s second-most populated state and 11 deaths, Victoria’s health departmentreported Saturday via Twitter, down from 81 new cases the previous day and the lowest daily tally since Aug. 31. Restrictions have been in place for almost two months, meaning people can only leave their homes for essential shopping, a short period of exercise per day, or for permitted work.

Signs the Victoria outbreak is easing come after Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Friday that most state and territory leaders haverecommitted to opening up the economy by December, although he failed to secure an immediate agreement to lift border restrictions that are hampering the recovery.

The economy contracted by the most on record last quarter, falling into itsfirst recession in almost 30 years due to a nationwide lockdown to contain the virus. Activity is now returning to normal across most of the country, but restrictions remain in Melbourne, the nation’s second-largest city with about 5 million people, delaying the economy’s recovery.

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