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Australia reported a sustained fall in the rate of new coronavirus infections on Tuesday, but officials urged people not to become complacent and stressed the need for further strict social distancing policies.

To ensure compliance, state authorities enacted sweeping powers to impose hefty fines and potential jail terms for anybody breaching rules that include a ban on public meetings of more than just two people.

Health Minister Greg Hunt reported there were about 4,400 coronavirus cases nationally, with the rate of growth in new infections slowing from 25-30 per cent a week ago to an average of 9 per cent over the past three days.

Of those, 50 people were in intensive care and 20 were on ventilators, Hunt said. The death toll stood at 19.

Based on the completion of more than 230,000 tests, the death rate for Australian cases was below 1 per cent, significantly under the 10 per cent being reported by some other countries and suggesting “early promising signs of the curve flattening,” Hunt said.

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“By having what we believe is the broadest and widest testing program in the world … at this stage our numbers indicate that we are at the global forefront, we have a good picture of where we’re at,” Hunt said in a televised media conference.

2:03Coronavirus outbreak: Pandemic sees pollution levels drop around the world

Coronavirus outbreak: Pandemic sees pollution levels drop around the world

“In these most difficult of times,


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