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COVID-19 deaths rise in Australia's Victoria state

COVID-19 deaths rise in Australia's Victoria state

A couple walks on a footbridge over the Yarra River in the Southbank district of Melbourne on Aug 12, 2020. (Photo: AFP/William West)

SYDNEY: Australia's Victoria state on Wednesday (Aug 26) recorded its second-most deadly day of the COVID-19 pandemic with 24 deaths, although fewer new infections were detected at the half-way mark of a strict six-week lockdown.

The southeastern state detected 149 new cases compared with 148 reported on Tuesday, well down on the peak of more than 700 daily cases on Aug 5. 

The record daily death toll was 25 reported last week.

READ: Australia borders to stay shut as COVID-19 daily deaths reach record

Victoria's government wants to extend a state of emergency by another year to combat the spread of the virus, allowing it to prolong or reimpose lockdowns over that period.

The move has alarmed critics of the state government, including members of the federal cabinet who say an extended state of emergency is undemocratic.

"They take away liberties, they take away the functioning of democracy in the state of Victoria," federal Education Minister Dan Tehan told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Almost 64 per cent of Australia's 549 deaths from COVID-19 have occurred among elderly residents of aged-care homes, which are overseen by the federal government.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has come under attack from the opposition in parliament this week for the government's handling of the crisis in aged care.

READ: Australia expects unemployment to peak near 10% after COVID-19 shutdowns

Asked by reporters about the high rate of fatalities in aged-care facilities, he compared Australia's record to the United Kingdom's.

"There is over 2,700 aged care facilities in this country and 97 per cent of those have had no resident COVID-19 infections," he said.

"Had the UK results been realised here in Australia over a thousand centres would have been affected."

Australia surpassed 25,000 COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, with Victoria responsible for the bulk of cases.

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Source: Reuters/ad

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