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First 'no-quarantine' flights arrive into Australia as virus cases fall

SYDNEY, Oct 16 (Reuters) - Several hundred passengers from the New Zealand city of Auckland are due to land in Sydney on Friday as part of a new trans-Tasman travel bubble amid a rapidly falling growth rate in cases at the epicentre of Australia’s coronavirus outbreak.

The Australian state of Victoria recorded just two new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, health authorities said on Friday, in the lowest daily increase since early June.

Victoria, and in particular the state capital of Melbourne, have endured months of strict lock-down measures, although Premier Daniel Andrews is due to announce plans to ease some restrictions on Sunday.

In the state of New South Wales, where three New Zealand flights will be landing on Friday, community transmission has crept up in recent days to double-digits, although the case load is modest compared to outbreaks in much of Europe and North America.

Travellers on the flights won’t be required to quarantine in Sydney, Air New Zealand said, although the arrangements are not yet reciprocal, with New Zealand requiring arrivals to be in managed isolation for 14 days.

Reporting by Jonathan Barrett; editing by Richard Pullin

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