Australia's daily virus cases pass 2000

·2-min read

Australia's research effort to find another treatment for COVID-19 has ramped up as the daily increase in the country's coronavirus cases surpassed 2000 for the first time during the pandemic.

Friday marked a record increase of cases in Australia - 2070 - driven largely by 1599 new infections across NSW.

Some 450 new locally acquired cases were reported in Victoria on Saturday - a high for this outbreak - and there were five new cases among members of one family in Queensland, where a lockdown could be looming.

"There is no lockdown today," said Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.

But the government may have to take "very quick, fast action" if they see seeding outside the family in the next 24 to 48 hours, she warned.

In Canberra another 15 people tested positive to the virus, while one case - an essential worker - was diagnosed in South Australia.

It is the second day in a row the country has had a record number of daily COVID-19 cases during the pandemic, and comes as the Prime Minister tries to wrangle rogue states back to the national plan to end lockdowns.

There is a national agreement to reduce the chances of lockdowns at 70 per cent and use only highly targeted restrictions at 80 per cent, a plan some premiers from virus-free states have since distanced themselves from.

"Lockdowns and lockouts once you get above that 80 per cent vaccination rate, they do more harm than good," Scott Morrison told 2GB radio on Friday.

But he ruled out withholding infrastructure or GST funding from Western Australia or other hardline states because it would punish people.

Australia has fully vaccinated more than 41 per cent of its population aged 16 and above, while more than 66 per cent have received a first dose.

While the race to vaccinate speeds up, the federal government on Saturday announced it was also keen to accelerate research into ways to treat the virus.

It will contribute $5 million to researchers at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne to find a new antibody treatments to fight the virus.

Antibody-based therapies - which are widely used to treat infectious diseases, autoimmune diseases and cancer - block the entry of the virus into cells and stop infection.

Two COVID-19 treatments - Remdesivir and Sotrovimab - have already been approved in Australia and are currently being used to treat patients across the country, but more are needed, Health Minister Greg Hunt says.

"The considerable expertise of Australia's world-class health and medical researchers is critical for ensuring preparedness and the safety of all Australians and the global community," he said in a statement.

"We are backing our best and brightest researchers to drive innovation and contribute to global efforts to control the COVID-19 outbreak."

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