Australia reports no COVID-19 deaths for third day, hotspot faces longer lockdown

From Sonali Paul
MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australia recorded no coronavirus deaths for a third straight day on Saturday. However, the hotspot city of Melbourne has been on hold for longer as new infections stubbornly stayed above the target for reopening.
The southeastern state of Victoria reported 14 new cases, with the two-week average rising slightly to 9.5, doubling the target of fewer than five cases to loosen the curbs in its capital, Melbourne, in eight days.
Once the goal was achieved, the state government had announced that it would lift all restrictions on leaving the house and allow public gatherings of up to 10 people, some home visits, outdoor dining and the reopening of all shops.
The Prime Minister of Victoria, Daniel Andrews, however, had hopes for a comprehensive easing.
"I think we are unlikely to take as big a step as we would have hoped next Sunday," Andrews said at a televised press conference, but declined to comment on which curbs may have been lifted could become.
"There are no shortcuts here, otherwise we'll literally have five minutes of sunshine and we'll be flipping between restrictions all summer and all of 2021."
Australia's most populous state, New South Wales, reported three new cases on Saturday while the state of Queensland had one new case. The nationwide number exceeds 27,200 infections and 897 deaths, far fewer than most rich countries.
Neighboring New Zealand reported four new cases on Saturday, with all returning travelers in quarantine.

(Interactive graphical tracking of the worldwide spread of coronavirus: https://graphics.reuters.com/world-coronavirus-tracker-and-maps)


(Reporting by Sonali Paul; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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