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What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

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Australia's Melbourne eyes way out of lockdown
Australia's Victoria state authorities said plans to ease COVID-19 restrictions in state capital Melbourne this week remained "on track" as new locally acquired cases declined on Tuesday.

Victoria, Australia's second most populous state, was plunged into a one-week lockdown on May 27 to contain a virus outbreak, forcing its 7 million residents to remain home except for essential business.

The lockdown was extended in Melbourne until June 10, while some restrictions were relaxed in other regions in the state.

China's Guangdong steps up testing
China's southern Guangdong province, spooked by a rise in infections since May, stepped up mass testing this week in a handful of cities, including those that have yet to report a single case.

While the numbers of confirmed infections and asymptomatic cases remain small compared to massive outbreaks seen in other countries such as India and Brazil, China is taking no chances.

Guangdong, China's manufacturing hub and biggest province by economic output, has reported more than 110 confirmed cases since May 21.

Its provincial capital Guangzhou has accounted for almost 90% of the confirmed cases, spurring the city of over 18 million people to ramp up mass testing.

South Korea's vaccination drive picks up speed
South Korea injected 857,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses on Monday, setting a daily record in an inoculation drive that took its vaccination rate to 16.4% for a first dose, data from the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency showed.

Hitherto a slow vaccine rollout due to global shortages and shipment delays had complicated South Korea's efforts to subdue the latest wave of infections, after the country won plaudits last year for using aggressive and high-tech contact tracing to quickly tamp down outbreaks.

But with the inoculation drive ramping up, South Korea said last week that it expects to meet its vaccination target for the first half of the year by inoculating up to 14 million people ahead of schedule.

Taiwan warns of vaccine delays
Taiwan's health minister warned on Tuesday of further delays in getting more COVID-19 vaccines but said the government was doing all it could to do so, as he reported a stabilisation of new infections.

Taiwan has been struggling to speed up its vaccination programme while it deals with a spike in domestic cases, with only about 3% of its 23.5 million people having received at least one shot.

New Zealand to get another million vaccine doses
New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Tuesday that she would get her first COVID-19 shot at the end of next week, as the country prepared to receive another 1 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

"I'm choosing to be vaccinated at this point in order to play my role in demonstrating that I consider it to be absolutely safe and also really critical to keep others safe," she said.

About 20,000 doses a day are being administered, and the Pfizer deliveries will enable that pace to increase significantly, Ardern said.
(Reuters)

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