Australia posts daily virus record, more deaths expected

Ambulance officers remove a resident from the St Basil's Home for the Aged in the Melbourne suburb of Fawkner on July 27, 2020, with 84 cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus linked to the facility. (File/AFP)
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Updated 27 July 2020

Australia posts daily virus record, more deaths expected

  • Victoria currently has more than 4,500 active cases after weeks of triple digits daily rises
  • Australia has recorded a total 14,935 cases and 161 deaths

SYDNEY: Australia’s Victoria state on Monday reported the country’s highest daily increase in coronavirus infections, prompting the authorities to warn a six-week lockdown may last longer if people continue to go to work while feeling unwell.
The second-most populous state reported 532 new cases of the virus which causes COVID-19, taking the national total to 549, the most new cases in a day since the pandemic arrived.
Victoria currently has more than 4,500 active cases after weeks of triple digits daily rises.
It reported six more deaths, taking the state toll to 77, almost half the total national death toll. Five of the deaths were in aged care facilities, which have been hit hardest in the state.
Australia has avoided the high COVID-19 casualty rates of other countries, but a wave of community transmission in Victoria has prompted a lockdown in Melbourne, the only Australian city to make it mandatory to wear a facemask in public.
“If you’ve got a sniffle, a scratchy throat, a headache, fever, then you can’t go to work,” said Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews in a televised news conference.
“This is what is driving these numbers up, and the lockdown will not end until people stop going to work with symptoms and instead go and get tested because they have symptoms.”
Melbourne, home to a fifth of Australia’s 25 million population, is halfway though a six-week ban on movement other than for work, buying food, giving or receiving health care, or daily exercise. Andrews added that he may announce additional measures later this week.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the high number of new cases in Victoria showed how transmission of the illness among younger people, who were considered lower risk, could spread to aged care facilities through family members.
“In Victoria there is still a long way to go,” Morrison told reporters.
“We are still seeing case numbers at elevated levels and ... when you get community-based transmission, it does take some time to get that down.” Victoria has had a total of 8,173 cases.
Neighbouring New South Wales (NSW) state, the country’s most populous, is also grappling with several virus clusters that have sprung up at a hotel, a Thai restaurant and a club. NSW reported 17 new cases on Monday. NSW has had 3,496 cases in total, about 1,100 active.
Australia has recorded a total 14,935 cases and 161 deaths and authorities on Monday warned more lives would be lost as infections continued to rise.
“The tragedy of COVID-19 is that we know, with the number of new infections that we have seen today, that there will be many further deaths in the days ahead,” Deputy Chief Medical Officer Michael Kidd told reporters.
More than 16.13 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 644,836​ have died, according to a Reuters tally.

Having flu doubles risk of coronavirus death: Study

Updated 24 min 36 sec ago

Having flu doubles risk of coronavirus death: Study

  • Heightened danger particularly acute among over-65s
  • WHO identifies flu season as acute threat given COVID-19 spikes

LONDON: Infection with flu and coronavirus at the same time more than doubles a person’s risk of dying than if he or she only had COVID-19, according to research released by England’s highest public health body.

Research conducted by Public Health England (PHE) found that those with flu and COVID-19 were 2.27 times more likely to die than those who just had COVID-19, and 5.92 times more likely to die than those who had neither.

Researchers found that those aged 65 and over were at greatest risk. Most cases of co-infection were in older people, and more than half of them died.

The paper describes the possible impact of COVID-19 alongside seasonal flu as a “major concern.”

Yvonne Doyle, medical director of PHE, said: “If you get both you’re in some serious trouble, and the people who are most likely to get both of these infections may be the very people who can least afford to in terms of their own immune system, or their risk for serious outcomes.”

The paper found that people with flu were less likely to test positive for COVID-19, but Doyle said this should not be taken as a reassurance.

Some countries in Asia have pre-emptively rolled out early and more aggressive flu vaccination programs this year to prevent complications caused by co-infection.

But others, such as Poland, have been struggling to secure flu vaccines due to shortages caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The upcoming flu season has been identified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a particularly acute threat, given that many parts of the world are already experiencing a spike in COVID-19 infections.

“We’re starting to see worrying trends in some countries,” said Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO technical lead for COVID-19. “We’re seeing increases in hospitalizations, in intensive care units … That’s worrying because we haven’t seen the flu season yet.”