CANBERRA, Sept. 20 (Xinhua) -- Australia on Sunday confirmed 19 new COVID-19 cases, the lowest number in about three months.
As of Sunday afternoon, there had been altogether 26,898 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Australia.
Of the new cases, Victoria, the hardest-hit state by the COVID-19 pandemic in the country, confirmed 14, which is the lowest number of new cases since June 19.
The national death toll has increased by five to 849. All five new deaths were reported in Victoria.
"All of today's five deaths are linked to known outbreaks in aged care facilities. To date, 761 people have died from coronavirus in Victoria," said a statement from the Department of Health and Human Services in Victoria on Sunday.
The department also said that there are 376 active cases relating to the aged care facilities and 117 active cases among healthcare workers in the state.
Also on Sunday, the Australian government announced further investment in three new COVID-19 vaccine research projects.
Health Minister Greg Hunt said six million Australian dollars (4.3 million U.S. dollars) will be funded from the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) for candidate vaccines being developed by the Universities of Melbourne and Sydney.
According to the media release, two vaccine candidates are targeting the tip of the spike protein, known as the receptor binding domain, but using different vaccine techniques to compare which vaccine maximises the production of neutralising antibodies.
Besides, the University of Sydney will receive about half of the funding for a Phase 1/1b clinical trial to test the safety and effectiveness of a novel DNA-based COVID-19 vaccine.