Australian virus second wave developing?

More a second ripple, via the ABC:

It’s been two weeks since restrictions eased on June 1, so what’s happening to Australia’s COVID-19 curve?

Compared to the low coronavirus infection numbers we have become used to seeing in Australia, this week we’ve seen a big jump.

New cases have been in the double digits for four consecutive days.

But the fact we’re even talking about it is a sign of just how well Australia has handled the pandemic.

It is also one of the reasons the recent rise is noticeable, because the week before had abnormally low levels of infection.

It’s not a spike — not by any stretch — and it is worth remembering that not all cases are as bad as each other.

So where is the country at right now?

Dr Katherine Gibney from the Doherty Institute and Royal Melbourne Hospital said the numbers were an “ongoing trickle”.

“It would be nice to have no cases, or no cases with an unknown source, and unfortunately that hasn’t quite occurred but we have really high testing rates and I think a pretty good pickup rate,” she said.

Of the 61 cases reported since Saturday, 30 of them were acquired overseas.

These types of cases are the least concerning.

The virus only appears to be spreading locally in a few places, and all but one of those types of cases since Saturday were in New South Wales or Victoria.

In fact, in most states and territories, it’s now more appropriate to measure the number of days since the state last had a recorded infection, rather than the number of new cases found.

The most concerning coronavirus infections are those acquired in Australia, particularly when the source of infection cannot be found.

The number of those cases has been very low, but there is one sign that they may be starting to pick up again.

NSW went two weeks without recording a locally acquired infection, but since Friday the state has recorded four of them.

The four cases are two staff of Sydney education facilities and two men in their 20s.

One of those is in the Illawarra, a region that hadn’t recorded any cases in more than four weeks.

The broken streak of local infections came almost a fortnight after major restrictions were eased on June 1.

The NSW Government had allowed more diners in cafes and restaurants, and permitted regional travel within the state.

Could the lifting of rules be allowing the virus to spread again?

“Every time we lift controls there is the possibility that there will be more transmission in the community, that’s why they’re lifting the restrictions quite slowly and methodically,” Dr Gibney said.

“There’s nothing that’s happened that would necessarily cause the people who are making these decisions to panic or change course.”

New Zealand has declared victory in eliminating local transmissions, but that no longer appears to be an option in Australia, according to Dr Gibney.

“If we wanted elimination, we would have had to keep the very strict lockdown measures in place for several weeks longer,” she said.

“Instead we’ve opted for a balance between accepting very low case numbers, but some ongoing cases, with the payoff that kids are back at school and businesses are reopening.”

Victoria still has by far the most local transmission of the virus in Australia.

The biggest cluster began with a doctor, who picked up the virus from a patient but remained asymptomatic.

The doctor unwittingly passed it on to 11 members of their extended family.

But the higher numbers in Victoria are not necessarily a bad thing.

“Victoria has got really very high testing [rates] … that’s part of the reason why we are detecting more cases,” Dr Gibney said.

“They’ve also been quite aggressive in terms of following up anyone who’s got links to clusters.

“It’s better to know about all of these cases than it is to have a less targeted follow-up and have cases that you don’t know about.”

I still expect a second Aussie wave but no shutdown repeat. Local action should be enough to keep a lid on it.

David Llewellyn-Smith

Comments

  1. Simple solution is to open up and tell everyone to wear masks. We aren’t short of PPE anymore, which was the original reason not to wear masks.

    • Many will not wear masks even if it is made a legal requirement.
      I wouldn’t.
      This would hamper their potential effectiveness in “you cannot tell me what to do” type societies like Australia.

      • I have worn a mask in expectation that it mitigates infection rates. Quite happy to continue to do so until the bioweapon is starved out. I don’t see it as an implosion on muh freedums. I think australian mostly have more sense than to think it’s an attack on freedom. Worked pretty well.

        Sure my landlord marched into my place without a mask after sewerage overflowed from the showEr drain, flooded bathroom and carpeted corridor soaking it. Took him a week to remove the carpet,as he wanted it to dry out a bit, wanted to leave the underlay. Not wearing a mask. He is an example of an Australian type non mask wearing.

      • Yeah Luke, you’re a “cannot tell me what to do” guy, even if it threatens the well-being of your family and community. Your “freedom” is more important than anything. Do you wear clothing in public? You should be free to choose not to if you feel like it!

      • drsmithyMEMBER

        This would hamper their potential effectiveness in “you cannot tell me what to do” type societies like Australia.

        LOL.

        There is no such thing.

        That response is directly related to who is doing the “telling”, who is being “told” and what is being said.

      • drsmithyMEMBER

        it’s ok if people die. straw man straw man, Sweden, moved goalposts.

        To be fair, I think it’s “they would have died within a few months anyway”.

        • This.
          My confidence in the accuracy of the tests is zero, in the number of infected cases reported is zero and the number of deaths reported due to the virus is zero. It’s all a hoax and the second wave concocted by the media has to be dismissed by us all.

          • Steve, what about the excess deaths numbers we are seeing ? “…blood clotting, we see kidney damage, we see inflammation of the heart, we see stroke, we see encephalitis… this virus is probably a vasculotropic virus“.

            Also, separately, an early interview with a US ER Dr noted they had split the ER but were finding COVID on the non-COVID symptoms side. They were only getting tested incidentally. How many have died but likely are not attributed to COVID as not matching the early symptoms and never tested as such? Serious question.

          • Hence in the U.S. case infected were sent back to aged care to make room for people with more productivity years left, so GDP would not suffer more than necessary and distribution vectors would not be redirected.

            Strangely reminiscent of giving out smallpox blankets to the natives …. silly me … ooooh we are so advanced [python] ….

      • Charles MartinMEMBER

        I’m going to find the transition back to pants a difficult one. I’ve been wearing trackies for nearly 3 months straight and love the comfort an warmth.

    • truthisfashionable

      Interesting, I was on a teams meeting being told not to come to the office unless you have to and no guidance will be given at this time of when that direction will change.

      I still contend that the company response to covid will be a deciding factor (when/if the job market picks up again) for many potential candidates.

      • Charles MartinMEMBER

        I agree, just got off a Zoom meeting and the company line is basically that the world didn’t end because we are all WFH (if anything, we have been even busier during the pandemic) that it could be the new normal. Most of my workmates have enjoyed WFH so much that they might continue to do so. I miss the social aspects of getting coffee and Friday night drinks, so will try to find a balance, but as of right now, I think I’ll WFH 3 days a week and be in the office for 2 days a week. TBH, the commute was schitting me anyway, so this forced WFH has made me think about differently, which I am grateful for.

        • Spot on. Post covid I expect WFH 2 to 3 days per week, property space savings have CFOs licking their lips and productivity improved. We will have to book a desk ahead of time.

  2. A recent extensive mata-analysis calculated the infection mortality rate to be 0.6%. Among people less than 70, its closer to 0.1%.

    The virus is still pretty contagious, and so cases will increase as restrictions relax. But as for being a vicious killer, its a sheep in wolves clothing.

    An IFR that is way under 1% (especially if we shield the elderly in nursing homes) would not justify the earlier extreme measures. These were certainly justified at the time given the data from Italy, Spain, NYC etc which suggested a mortality rate approaching 10%. However as the data cleans up, we can better assess the threat really posed and can plan accordingly.

    You know, Boris Johnson may have turned out to be right. Let society continue with relatively little disruption, and shield the elderly.

      • And many of the ‘elderly’ participate actively in the community via work, volunteering, babysitting etc.If the virus is active in teh community, they can’t participate or will get sick if they do.

        • They don’t need to babysit or volunteer and can WFM in a lot of cases. Let them take extended sick leave or if they can’t work from home. Let them manage their exposure. The rest of society can’t be held hostage when the elderly should be carrying the burden – but the elderly are influential voters and want everyone to suffer for their sake.

      • Exactly. 188 Victorian healthcare workers. Self centred thinking precludes the bigger picture.Deagel has Aus population at 15 million in 2025, based on best CIA and intelligence known. One of Whitlam’s projects to change education so as to develop abstract thinking, see the bigger picture, consequences and creation of better.

    • Wow… marked as spam.

      Ok…. Well, those meta analysis’ don’t seem to line up with the best real data we have from any country with a sizable number of cases.

      on worldometers, even South Korea is at 2.2% IFR, and 2.5% rCFR.

      Either the study is wrong, or somehow there are ~5x the cases in SK – which are totally invisible and not showing symptoms in anyone it spreads to.

    • Ronin8317MEMBER

      I’m curious : currently there are 8.25 million cases infected in the world with 445k death. How does that become 0.6% instead of 5.4%?

          • Yes. But we know a greater % of the total deaths – perhaps 50%. We may only know 10-20% of total infections.

            So the numerator increases. But the denominator increases much more.

          • Steve, how may ‘COVID’ deaths are actually from those with terminal illnesses where COVID, like pneumonia, is what actually takes them out?

            People don’t die technically from AIDS, it is often pneumonia or whatever else their immune depressed bodies can’t handle – but we still say they died of AIDS as opposed to pneumonia.

    • The problem with that perspective is it only looks at death as a result of infection and not the near or long term critical health ramifications of being infected and survive. So on one hand, from a numbers game, from an economic and social psychological stand point, it fails to incorporate all the data – still being compiled as we speak.

      This is all made even more difficult when vacuous ideology is used to establish the framework by which everything is viewed through, premise leads too a erroneous conclusion due to demand pull.

      • Yes. There are some rare patients with long term health sequelae.
        But many patients have zero symptoms. Most of those who do have only mild symptoms. So this is not going to create a society of respiratory cripples..

          • Ok. I’ve looked after 7 COVID patients. Including 2 in ICU.

            What’s your personal experience?

          • DominicMEMBER

            Wheee .. (chortle, snigger). I think you’re cactus, skipster.

            You have been ‘done like a kipper’ as the Poms would say.

          • The networks I use to determine cause and effect whilst noting its still early days from the perspective of someone that grew up in a medical family on my dads side grandfather was a MD and surgeon, grandmother was a MD [dear great grandfather was head of UofC], wife is a microbiologist with with a few decades of Phlebotomy work and transferred to Paramedical sciences [clinical and education] and for myself I have my military battlefield medical background – started on goats hit with a 7.62 copper jacket steel core round.

            But yeah I start with methodology first and foremost before letting numbers cloud the issue, they change, especially from onset to post exsamination and one would not like to let some environmental bias skew a health related issue – outcome … we have MBAs for that action.

          • Thanks Dom … the Austrian view is appreciated … especially after its good works in diminishing health care and its broader socioeconomic – psychological impacts for a profit motive.

  3. “The biggest cluster began with a doctor, who picked up the virus from a patient but remained asymptomatic.

    The doctor unwittingly passed it on to 11 members of their extended family.”

    I guess so much for asymptomatic not spreading …

      • That is whole point with this virus. You are contagious before you show symptoms, about 5 dayd, so self isolating after seeing symptoms means spreading it for a week. The only way to head off the spread is isolation pre-emptively. Which is why masks work … stops you unknowingly infecting others. All the personal responsibility reflexes I keep seeing on this site completely misses the poi t.

        • I understand that Curious. Perfectly. Thought everyone knew. Am very careful and keen on mitigation efforts. So wearing mask during contacts or aerosol exposure conditions in buildings if possible but now the masks have pretty well vanished.

    • Of course the asymptomatic spread.
      But China waited until late March to disclose the 21,000 asymptomatic cases they knew about in February.

      And the WHO were complicit with
      a) no person to person spread
      b) low asymptomatic rates
      c) asymptomatic don’t spread (even after they conceded that symptomatic people could cause person to person spread)

  4. J BauerMEMBER

    “Of the 61 cases reported since Saturday, 30 of them were acquired overseas.

    These types of cases are the least concerning.”

    Yes, these are the least concerning.

  5. Ronin8317MEMBER

    NSW is not too bad : only 2 cases of community infection detected in the past week. There is a local cluster in Victoria which is worrying though as it spread from extended family members to hospital staffs.

    It is still a few more days before we know if the BLM protest will created a 10,000 people infection cluster. If that happens, forget about a second shutdown : it’ll be unstoppable.

    • The answer is masks. A family member was hospitalised in Geelong for two weeks in late April/early May. None of the hospital staff took any precautions and none wore masks although the hospital did strictly limited visitors. If this is ongoing, no wonder cases are arising in hospitals.

      Whereas many of the protesters wore masks and were mostly young.

      The answer, however inconvenient, is universal mask wearing.

  6. should not only look at death rates but impact on supply lines from work absenteeism will be huge. Most commenters that cheer for reopening totally ignore the effects on people this virus can have.
    Yes, most young people will survive but will not be fine as per comments. Lot will suffer and most will trigger massive disruptions at work.
    Many will only experience this as just flue but many will be knocked out of action for ~3 weeks. Try to run a business when you constantly have 30-40% of your workers calling sick.

    • Niko, there are multiple studies from different cohorts in different studies all showing huge asymptomatic rates. Up to 90% in some studies. Whether it is Iceland random screening, or Chicago prison surveys, or NYC obstetric patients, or testing of passengers on cruise ships, or screening of the population of a town in Italy, they all show the same thing.

      You have been a bit unlucky if you have any symptoms at all.
      Getting any sicker than a common cold s ever more unlucky.
      Getting seriously sick is extremely unlucky.

      • why are Govs freaking so much then? Especially the Chinese? I still suspect Govs know more than they admit and they fear some kind of mutation that can wipe populations out.
        If your view is correct then I agree. But observing how some Govs react gives me a reason to think covid19 is lot more serious than many think is.
        As I said, you might be right and we might be panicking for nothing.

        • It’s in Govts interest to freak out – to freak people out – so that those in power can portray themselves and bold, courageous and saving lives. The quote from Ghostbusters seems pretty apt: “Lenny… you will have saved the lives, of millions of registered voters.”

    • as steve already pointed out the narrative that young get really sick in significant numbers is just a myth
      I think the reason for the story was to convince young to take precautions not to spread the virus.
      many studies confirmed even among symptomatic cases 95% have mild symptoms that do not require any medical help. So that’s 5% of around 20% of people who have any symptoms that require medical help. That’s around 1% that need some medical help and among them people under 50 are just a tiny fraction.

      CDC studies confirmed that even among elderly (65 ) hospitalisation rate is not greater than in case of bad influenza season https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/covid-data/covidview/index.html

      • > CDC studies confirmed that even among elderly (65 ) hospitalisation rate is not greater than in case of bad influenza season

        Name a flu season that pushed multiple health systems in multiple countries around the globe to breaking point.

        These studies fly in the face of recorded events.

        • Industry has “just in time” to save costs.

          Critical care is expensive. Very expensive. The system usually has just enough. Just. Because no taxpayer wants to pay for any more than “just enough.”

          It doesn’t take anything disastrous to crash the system. A new virus which infects many and which causes a tiny % to get critically ill will do it.
          NYC = 8 million
          Assume 25% caught virus = 2 million (serology data suggests 25% is a likely figure)
          Assume 1% critically unwell = 20,000 critically ill. That will overwhelm any city.

          That NZ volcano. 26 injured, many seriously. They had to ship patients all round NZ, plus Sydney, Melb, Brisbane, and Adelaide. The system is that tight.

  7. on a more serious note, in last few week few key studies came out. To me the most interesting is one that showed up to 60% of all persons may already have a certain cellular background immunity to Covid19 due to contact with previous coronaviruses (i.e. common cold viruses).
    This makes most of children who get infected few times a year, their parents, carers, teachers, … immune to novel coronavirus https://www.cell.com/cell/fulltext/S0092-8674(20)30610-3

    the other study is one that found that people with no symptoms and mild symptoms don’t even develop detectable antibodies in their blood

    • Yes. That may well explain what we are have been seeing.

      Even in the worst hit areas, the epidemic seemed to pass significantly faster than the the original mathematical models suggested it would. These models were all predicated on zero pre-existing immunity. That may not have been valid.

    • I hope the ‘germ freaks’ at work, that constantly say ‘stay away from me’ if they hear someone might have a cold, are the ones to get corona and suffer.

  8. “There’s nothing that’s happened that would necessarily cause the people who are making these decisions to panic or change course.”

    Good. They had their panic at the very beginning, presenting epidemiological models forecasting 150,000 deaths and insisting lockdown and unemployment necessary to avert the impending crisis. All measures must be taken to ensure hospitals and ICUs are not overburdened.

    None of which happened and we had only 100 or so deaths. Hospitals filled with nurses twiddling thumbs and making Tiktok dance numbers. No evidence that social distancing worked. However an island closing its international borders and quarantining return travellers undoubtedly did. Of course, therein lies the dilemma!

    • even closing borders is very questionable, it did reduce number of cases by simply reducing numbers of directly imported cases but that just made those people count as cases somewhere else.
      There was very little local transmission in Australia (R0 in Australia was less than 0.5 in early March) even before measures when infected people were arriving and going to places. Not closing the borders but keeping quarantine would not have made many more locals infected. Even few that would slip through the quarantine would not infect many locals.

      there are few studies suggesting that a particular climate condition made covid19 spread in those hotspots much faster than in the other cities. They looked into temperatures (between 5 and 15C), dry air, small particle pollution, … and found out that all big hotspots (Milan, NYC, Madrid, Wuhan, …) had quite similar weather events and pollution conditions during epidemic (periods of very dry and coldish ).
      This can be seen by developments in southern hemisphere at the moment where Argentina, Chile, S Africa … are experiencing faster transmission.

      • Just as those prevented from entering were counted elsewhere, so too any spread. None of which took place in Australia – so in that way, effective. Initially all our cases had to come from overseas. Nosocomial spread was also avoided (and this appears key contributor in some hotspots) by the very low numbers of Covid patients hospitalised.

        The only thing that really has me baffled is China’s reaction to the virus. Extreme. It makes me wonder why…

        • out of 7k cases (of which 3k entered before border closure and mandatory quarantine) only 2k ate local cases

          not even those entering country before mid March were spreading the virus to locals – simply virus was not spreading much in Australia at any point of time (even well before social distancing when people were going from airplanes to weddings and sport stadiums)

          by keeping border open and imposing strict self quarantine we would be more or less the same

          • 4.5k confirmed cases acquired overseas. 2k locally acquired cases close contacts of confirmed cases. Less than 750 locally acquired cases contact unknown.

            Some benefit to restricting entry?

  9. Having observed behaviour at the local Westfield 3 weekends in a row now, my feeling is that we are set for a second wave since people have stopped caring about social distancing, particularly lifts / escalators.

  10. Has anyone noticed that China seems to have some bad news just whenever the rest of the world starts questioning how bad it really is.
    They revised their Wuhan deaths up by 50%
    They showed some photos of cremation urns stockpiled
    They have had a few localised outbreaks
    Talk about more dangerous mutations

    It is almost as though China is trying to keep this fire stoked.

  11. Yep Curious got that. Understand that infectious before symptoms if indeed symptoms do occur. and patients are still shedding virus after “recovered”, thought it was longer than a week in americans.
    But it’s important that people know that.

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