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Virus sparks job hunt, death toll now 23


Australia's coronavirus death toll has risen to 23, with deaths in the country's three biggest states adding to the tally of victims.

NSW, Victoria and Queensland reported one new death each on Thursday morning as the number of diagnosed cases approaches 5000 nationally.

A 67-year-old woman in Orange became the first NSW death outside of Sydney, while the latest Victorian victim was a woman in her 70s.

Queensland's most recent death was an 85-year-old man.

It comes as hundreds of thousands of sacked Australians are being urged to use a new online hub to hunt for work.

The federal government's website lists available positions, with increased demand for workers expected in health, logistics, mining, manufacturing, agriculture and government.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is expected to address the media on Thursday afternoon ahead of Friday's national cabinet meeting of federal and state leaders.

National cabinet will focus on rent and child care, a sector crying out for help to survive through the pandemic.

Providers are demanding help as some parents pull their children out of care in droves, while others weigh up whether to abandon a hard-fought place.

Federal parliament will sit on Wednesday to pass the $130 billion wage subsidy package designed to save millions of jobs over the next six months.

It's part of $320 billion - which is 16.4 per cent of gross domestic product - in federal government spending commitments.

Energy networks across NSW, Victoria and South Australia will give businesses struggling with coronavirus bill relief.

There are glimmers of hope among the gloom, with health officials encouraged Australia's coronavirus curve is flattening.

Over the past three days infection rates have risen by seven per cent - a significant fall from 25 to 30 per cent reached last week.

Australia's science agency has started testing vaccines on animals in a pre-clinical trial expected to take three months.

CSIRO scientists are testing two vaccine candidates in what is being hailed in a critical milestone in the fight against the deadly virus.

Deputy Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly insists strict physical distancing restrictions must stay in place.

"In terms of the measures that have been introduced, I think there (are) good signs now that that is actually working as we had expected," he said.

Police are cracking down on people ignoring social distancing measures, despite some criticism of heavy-handed tactics.

While the majority of people appear to be heeding the message to stay at home, there are concerns pockets of people including backpackers are flouting the rules.

© AAP 2020

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