Australia’s Victoria state reports 43 new COVID-19 cases, nine deaths

FILE PHOTO: Walkers wear protective face masks at St Kilda pier in Melbourne after it became the first city in Australia to enforce mask-wearing in public as part of efforts to curb a resurgence of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), July 23, 2020. REUTERS/Sandra Sanders/File Photo

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia’s Victoria state, which is at the centre of the country’s coronavirus outbreak, on Friday reported 43 new cases and nine deaths from the virus in the last 24 hours.

Australia’s second-most populous state a day earlier reported 51 new cases and seven deaths.

Victoria, home to one-quarter of Australia’s 25 million population, now accounts for about 75% of the country’s more than 26,500 COVID-19 cases and 90% of its 797 deaths.

A flare-up in cases forced the Victoria government to put the state into a hard lockdown in early August. But it has helped to bring down the daily rise in infections to double digits in recent days after it touched highs of more than 700.

Reporting by Renju Jose; Editing by Chris Reese