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National virus death toll hits 450

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Victoria has recorded 12 more deaths as new coronavirus cases continue to fall.

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The deaths take the state’s toll from the virus to 363 and the national toll to 450.

But the new Victorian cases have dropped again to 216, the lowest number since July 13.

There will be more details when Premier Daniel Andrews gives his daily briefing.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is the latest senior figure to express optimism that despite the ongoing deaths, Victoria is turning the corner in its second outbreak.

“Obviously the number of deaths we have seen is very upsetting and disturbing,” he told Nine’s Today show on Wednesday.

“But those (case) numbers look like we are getting on top of it now, which is welcome and we’ve got to stay the course.”

But the prime minister also agrees that the level of contact tracing of cases, a crucial tool in combating the outbreak, remains a major issue in Victoria.

“That’s why Commodore Hill was made available through the Australian Defence Force … to lead our effort in Victoria,” Mr Morrison told 3AW.

“So much of his early work has been about information systems, the organisation of supporting the Victorian medical team, to be organising how they’re getting their tracing done.

“More resources were being made available from SA and NSW to support those tracing efforts.

“But it’s one thing to have the people available – you’ve got to have the system to support them.”

Asked if Victoria’s system was failing, the prime minister replied: “We’ve been doing a lot of work to improve the information systems, together with the Victorian government.”

Melbourne is in the third week of a strict level-four lockdown, which includes an 8pm-5am curfew, due to end on September 13, while the rest of Victoria is under level-three restrictions.

Thirteen of the 17 deaths reported on Tuesday were linked to aged care outbreaks. Some 230 aged care residents have died so far.

Most residents were housed in facilities regulated by the federal government, which the aged care royal commission castigated last week for not having a plan to protect the elderly.

But Morrison continues to deflect federal responsibility for the crisis in the sector.

“We regulate aged care, but when there is a public health pandemic, then public health, whether it gets into aged care, shopping centres, schools or anywhere else, then they are things that are for Victoria,” he told ABC News Breakfast.

-AAP

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