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Australian COVID-19 death toll rises to 12

CANBERRA, March 26 (Xinhua) — Australia’s COVID-19 death toll has increased from eight to 12 in a single day.

Victoria has recorded its first three deaths related to COVID-19 over the past day. All three deaths in the state were men in their 70s who were being treated in hospital and the other one in Queensland is a 68-year-old man who became infected on a cruise ship.

Paul Kelly, Australia’s deputy chief medical officer, told reporters in Canberra on Thursday afternoon that there have been 2,793 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Australia – an increase of 24 percent from 2,252 as of Wednesday morning.

He said that the majority of new cases in Australia are still related to residents and citizens returning home from overseas and again urged everyone to follow self-isolation and social distancing guidelines.

“The number of people returning to Australia is now almost entirely Australian citizens and permanent residents, and that is decreasing every day. But we’re still having several thousand people, per day, coming back from these places where the epidemic is much more difficult,” he said.

“If you’re sick, stay at home. If you’re in quarantine, you stay at home. If you’re in self-isolation, you stay at home. If you have had contact with someone with COVID-19, you stay at home. If you have just come back from overseas in the last 14 days, you stay at home.

“I don’t know how much clearer I can make it, seriously.”

There have been 178,000 tests for COVID-19 in Australia as of Thursday.

The government on Wednesday night decided to expand testing for the virus to include testing people with fever or acute respiratory infection in: all health workers and all aged/residential care workers.

People in geographical areas where there is increased risk of community transition will also be eligible, as will all hospitalised patients with fever and acute respiratory symptoms of unknown cause, at the discretion of the treating clinician. 

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