Rate of infections in Victoria slows

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images
Australia was poised to post its lowest one-day rise in new Covid-19 cases in more than three weeks on Thursday, stoking hopes that a second wave of new infections gripping Victoria state is finally being brought under control.

Australia, once heralded as a global leader in combating Covid-19, has struggled to contain an outbreak in the country's second most populous state, which has seen triple digit daily new cases for weeks.

Another eight Victorians have died from coronavirus, while 278 new cases have been recorded in the past 24 hours. 

The deaths bring the state's death toll to 275 and the national figure to 360. 

Australia has identified about 22,500 Covid-19 cases to date.

The most populous state, New South Wales (NSW) reported 12 new cases, while Queensland said it has found no new Covid-19 infections in the past 24 hours.

Barring a large rise in cases from states that have a effectively eliminated the virus, that means Australia's total of 290 cases would be the lowest one-day rise in new coronavirus cases since July 20.

Authorities cautiously welcomed the decline.

"I think we have to wait and see what happens over the coming week just to make sure that downward slope continues over the days ahead," Deputy Chief Medical Officer Michael Kidd told Australia's Channel 9.

The slowdown in new cases comes a week after authorities imposed a total lockdown across Melbourne, Australia's second largest city, including a night curfew, restrictions on people's daily movements and large parts of state economy ordered to close.

Nearly 5 million people in Melbourne have been confined to their homes except for essential reasons for nearly a month.

Neighbouring New South Wales state is also on alert, having reported daily new infections in the teens for the past several weeks.

Officials warned a failure by people there to observe social distancing guidelines could fuel community transmission, as they scrambled to trace several clusters stemming from schools and restaurants.

Meanwhile, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the coronavirus "danger is still on our doorstep" and the state's borders would remain closed to NSW and Victoria.

No new Covid-19 cases were reported in the Sunshine State overnight, with just 11 active cases.

Ms Palaszczuk told Parliament on Thursday the situation was far worse in NSW.

"The danger is still on our doorstep."

The premier said she would not risk coronavirus entering Queensland and the borders would remain closed for as long there is transmission southern states.

"I will not put the safety of Queenslanders at risk."

It comes as police continue to investigate how a Queensland man was able to get past officers and escape mandatory hotel quarantine in Toowoomba.

The 25-year-old surrendered himself on Wednesday, a day after walking out of the hotel on day nine of his two-week isolation period.

"He's worked out a way to leave and left," Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski told reporters.

The man had earlier tested negative to Covid-19 after returning from a NSW hotspot and was not considered a high risk to the community.

- Reuters and AAP

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