Australia’s internal borders to stay shut as COVID-19 daily deaths reach record

Melbourne, home to nearly 5 million people, has been in lockdown since early July, with people largely confined to their homes and business shuttered. (AAP Image via Reuters)
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Updated 10 August 2020

Australia’s internal borders to stay shut as COVID-19 daily deaths reach record

  • But some evidence that drastic lockdown measures in the city of Melbourne were having an effect
  • Australia’s federal political system has led to its eight states and territories taking different measures in response to the crisis

SYDNEY: Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said internal border closures were unlikely to lift before Christmas, as the country on Monday reported a record single day rise in COVID-19 deaths.
There was, however, some evidence that drastic lockdown measures in the city of Melbourne were having an effect, with daily new infections in the state of Victoria slowing to a near two-week low.
“I am more hopeful of that today than I was in the course of the past week,” Morrison told reporters in Canberra, as he called on state leaders to cooperate to allow stranded residents to return home.
Australia’s federal political system has led to its eight states and territories taking different measures in response to the crisis, resulting in several internal border closures.
Victoria state, which is home to Melbourne, the country’s second biggest city and the epicenter of its second coronavirus wave, reported 19 people had died from the virus over the past 24 hours. With some other states still to report daily new case and death numbers, that already marks the country’s biggest single day rise in fatalities.
However, Victoria officials also reported 322 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, the lowest single day rise in new infections since July 29.
Melbourne, home to nearly 5 million people, has been in lockdown since early July, with people largely confined to their homes and business shuttered.
State Premier Daniel Andrews said on Monday he understood frustrations but declined to put an end date on the lockdown.
“If I could paint you a picture that had any kind of reliability for next week, let alone five weeks away, then, of course, I would,” Andrews said during a televised media conference.
With around 21,000 COVID-19 cases and 314 deaths, Australia has still recorded fewer infections and fatalities than many other developed nations.
It was considered a global leader early in the pandemic, when it was swift to close its international border, impose social distancing restrictions and implement mass virus testing.
But as the country began to reopen, community transmissions rose significantly in Victoria, where triple digit daily new cases have now been recorded for weeks.
Authorities worry the spike in cases in Victoria has already spread to other states despite borders border closures.
Australia’s most populous state, New South Wales, reported 14 new cases, and no deaths, on Monday. Twelve cases were linked to known clusters while another was a person in hotel quarantine after returning from overseas, leaving one case with no known links.


Arthritis drug trialled as potential treatment for COVID-19

Updated 38 min 24 sec ago

Arthritis drug trialled as potential treatment for COVID-19

  • Dr. Andy Martin: We are conducting this study to see whether otilimab could potentially ease the effect of COVID- 19 on the lungs
  • Dr. Tim Felton: The primary end point of this study is that participants are alive and free of lung failure after 28 days — so this research is potentially life-saving

LONDON: The experimental arthritis drug, otilimab, is being trialled as a potential treatment for COVID-19.

The first patient, administered with the drug, is currently being cared for at Manchester Royal Infirmary (MRI), part of Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust (MFT).

The OSCAR study (Otilimab in Severe COVID-19 Related Disease) is sponsored and funded by the pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline.

The study at the MRI is being led by Dr. Andy Martin, an Intensive Care and Anaesthesia Consultant.

Dr. Martin said: “The patients eligible to take part in this study are those experiencing very severe lung difficulties due to COVID-19 infection and are receiving oxygen or ventilator support.

“We are conducting this study to see whether otilimab — which is under investigation as a potential treatment for rheumatoid arthritis — could also potentially ease the effect of coronavirus on the lungs, dampening the impact of the virus on the immune system.

Christopher Corsico, Senior Vice President Development, GSK said: “We are continuing to work hard to find solutions to address the pandemic, including exploring potential treatment options for COVID-19 patients.

“We know that some COVID-19 patients experience an overreaction of their immune system — sometimes referred to as cytokine storm — which can lead to hospitalization or death. We believe that otilimab might be able to help counter or calm this process.

Dr. Tim Felton, Honorary Consultant, Senior Lecturer at The University of Manchester and Clinical Lead for all MFT COVID-19-related research studies, leads OSCAR at Wythenshawe Hospital, which is also part of MFT.

Dr. Felton said: “The primary end point of this study is that participants are alive and free of lung failure after 28 days — so this research is potentially life-saving.

“I’d like to thank our first OSCAR participant — as well as the thousands of others who have taken part in coronavirus studies at MFT to date — as every participant who takes part in our research is contributing to the coordinated effort to enhance understanding of this global pandemic.”