Australians have been warned to stay away from six danger zones in Victoria as the state’s coronavirus outbreak worsened and lockdowns were tightened.
The six council areas are all in Melbourne – Hume, Casey and Brimbank, Moreland, Cardinia and Darebin.
Australia’s chief health authority, the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC), issued a statement on Sunday to discourage any travel to the areas until the spread had been controlled.
Australians have been warned to stay away from six council in Melbourne: Hume, Casey and Brimbank, Moreland, Cardinia and Darebin
A healthcare worker tests for coronavirus at a drive-through coronavirus test station at Keilor. Eleven people across nine households have been infected at Keilor Downs, Melbourne
‘It is critical that we are able to continue to control transmission,’ the committee said.
There have been 116 cases reported in Victoria in the last week, making up 83 per cent of all new infections, the committee said.
Melbourne schools shut due to coronavirus
Camberwell Grammar School, Canterbury – student
Albanvale Primary School, Albanvale – teacher
Springside Primary School, Caroline Springs – teacher
St Mary’s Primary School, Hampton – student
St Monica’s College, Epping – teacher
Keilor Downs Secondary College, Keilor Downs – student
Of those, 87 cases were from community transmission.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews was forced to reimpose tough restrictions within his state after 25 new cases were recorded on Saturday.
‘Don’t visit friends and family. Don’t go on holiday. Don’t go to work. Stay home,’ the premier said.
Victoria’s State of Emergency has been extended until 11.59pm on July 19.
From midnight on Sunday to July 12, Victorians will only be able to have five people at their homes while outdoor gatherings have been reduced from 20 down to 10.
Cafes, restaurants and pubs were to be allowed up to 50 patrons from Monday, but that will now have to remain at 20 until July 12.
The 20-person limit is the rule for real estate auctions, open houses and community areas will also continue to be limited to just 20 people.
Religious gatherings cannot be larger than 20 people plus those in charge of the ceremony.
Gyms are set to open and community sport to begin again, giving some relief, but indoor sports will again have limits of 20 people at a time, and 10 people per activity.
Health chiefs fear the state is on the tipping point of a second wave after Victoria’s cases spiked again by 19 on Sunday to a total of 1836, after four days of double-digit growth.
Face masks reduce viral spread when used with social distancing and Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said he was open to making wearing a mask in public mandatory.
People shop at the Queen Victoria Market, Melbourne, in April. Experts fear Victoria is teetering on the brink of a second wave, and Victoria has moved to tighten restrictions
‘I remain open to the idea. I think we have to bear in mind that we will do whatever is required that might help to turn things around in Victoria, because we need to get to a point where we are driving numbers back down to zero,’ he told the Herald Sun.
‘I’ll raise the issue with my AHPPC colleagues, I’m on the phone to them shortly, and I will raise it as a consideration for Victoria.’
Medical research published in The Lancet earlier this month found face masks can reduce the risk of transmission by up to 77 percent.
New antiviral drug breakthrough
Australian researchers have reportedly made a global breakthrough on a new antiviral drug they believe can protect against COVID-19 infection.
Monash University researchers have conducted modelling of the drug to show it has significant blocking ability against the virus that causes COVID-19, The Australian has reported.
Researchers hope the drug, which could be administered by an inhaler, might be available as early as the end of the year.
Monash University senior research fellow Tom Karagiannis said he and his team had tested the way a designer molecule called a-ketoamide blocks one of the proteins needed to replicate the virus that causes COVID-19.
Last month German researchers published new data on an improved version of a-ketomides they said work more effectively in humans.
Dr Karagiannis and his colleagues used a supercomputer to study the way the improved version blocks the triggering of the replication of the virus that causes COVID-19 and found it acts as a handbrake on the virus’s ability to replicate.
‘This molecule stops the virus from replicating, which can then stop the release of new virus particles and infection of other cells in the body,’ Dr Karagiannis told The Australian.
Monash University senior research fellow Tom Karagiannis (pictured left) has made a research breakthrough into an anti-viral drug that blocks coronavirus from replicating
‘When you are out and about, you cannot tell who is infected and who is not,’ said Professor Raina Macintyre, the head of the biosecurity research program at the University of NSW’s Kirby Institute.
‘You yourself may be infected and not know it. Especially with the growing evidence of pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic transmission, universal face mask use is an important way to reduce the spread of infection.
In Victoria, the six new coronavirus no-go zones are scattered across Melbourne’s west, north and southeastern suburbs.
The Brimbank council area contains Keilor Downs, the suburb where 11 people across nine households have been infected.
A Year 10 student spent two days at the local Keilor Downs Secondary College while infected, prompting the school’s closure.
One of the outbreaks is 12 contractors who worked at the Stamford Plaza hotel (pictured) in Melbourne, with three new cases on Sunday
Five other schools have had to close after coronavirus infections were revealed over the weekend.
A new case was found linked to a family in Coburg bringing that cluster to 14, Victoria’s Health Department said on Sunday.
One case has been confirmed in a Grill’d Highpoint restaurant worker who did one shift while infectious last week.
The restaurant is closed for a deep clean.
Victoria’s coronavirus spike threatens to delay three Australian states from reopening their borders
The spike in Victorian cases has made health authorities in Queensland, South Australia, and Western Australia wary of reopening their borders.
Deputy Premier and Health Minister Steven Miles said a powerful second wave of coronavirus could be devastating for Queenslanders.
‘It will be so much harder on businesses in the long run if we can’t stick to our recovery plans because of further outbreaks,’ he told The Sunday Mail.
‘Queenslanders have done a good job, making many sacrifices, to keep our communities safe.
‘This is a reminder that this pandemic is not over for us yet and we cannot afford to become complacent.’
Three Australian states are wary of opening their borders after Victoria had a spike in coronavirus cases on Saturday. Pictured: signage on the Queensland and NSW border in April
Western Australia’s government has maintained its hardline border closure will remain for as long as there is sustained community spread of the virus in the eastern states.
Premier Mark McGowan has refused to put a date on welcoming interstate visitors and is likely to further ease restrictions within WA before opening the border.
South Australia is due to reopen on July 20 but its government is closely monitoring the situation in Victoria and has not ruled out staying closed.
‘We will not open our borders to Victoria unless it is safe to do so,’ Health Minister Stephen Wade said on Saturday.
Three cases were found linked to the Stamford Plaza Hotel bringing that outbreak to 12.
Aged care facility Lifeview Willow Wood, Cranbourne, was visited by an outbreak team while the Royal Freemasons Springtime in Sydenham is closed.
No visitors are allowed at aged care facilities during lockdown.
Black Lives Matter protesters rally in Melbourne’s CBD on June 6 with three cases linked to it so far. Victoria’s police minister has warned people not to protest in the streets now there has been a massive spike in coronavirus cases
St Monica’s College, Epping, Melbourne will close until the start of next term, using online learning to teach students after a teacher tested positive. Six schools in total have new cases
Victorian AFL player tests positive
Essendon player Conor McKenna spent 14 days in quarantine and tested negative for the virus five times before eventually testing positive.
He was planned to make a return for the Bombers at a game against Melbourne at the MCG on Sunday, but that match has been postponed even though his teammates have tested negative.
McKenna is asymptomatic and is said to be doing well.
Though the Saturday match has been postponed, AFL boss Gillon McLachlan reassured fans that all others will proceed.
All of the players and football department staff at the Essendon club will be asked to self-isolate until the health department has finished their investigation.
Essendon Football Club’s Conor McKenna has tested positive for the coronavirus. He recently returned to Australia from Ireland
Victoria’s Police Minister Lisa Neville said police would patrol the coronavirus hotspots to make sure the public keep to social distancing regulations.
They will also be doorknocking to check that quarantines are obeyed.
‘This is not the time to be complacent, this is the time to remind ourselves that we all have a role to play in stopping this virus in the community,’ she said.
Ms Neville warned against protests after thousands marched the streets in Black Lives Matter protests earlier this month despite the pandemic, saying that cannot happen again now that public gatherings are again restricted to 10 people.
Victoria has diagnosed another surge in coronavirus infections as family and work clusters expand and derail plans of Premier Daniel Andrews (pictured) to reopen the state
‘Everyone said that [the Black Lives Matter] protest shouldn’t happen and people shouldn’t go – it was against the Chief Health Officers orders and directives,’ she said
‘So people, please stay home and find different ways to protest, to get your issues out while we go through this.’
The Grattan Institute think tank has released a report showing the risk of new infections increases as shops, schools and workplaces reopen, particularly if people ignore social distancing rules.
Melbourne’s no-go coronavirus zones
Since the start of June, the following council areas had the most cases
Hume – 17
Brimbank – 11
Casey – 7
Darebin – 6
Moreland – 6
Cardinia – 6
The report says workplaces should be reopened slowly, with as many people working from home as possible to limit opportunities for the virus to spread.
The institute also backs mandatory quarantining for international arrivals, saying it must remain in place.
The think tank’s health program director Stephen Duckett says the transition to a new normal won’t have an end date until a vaccine or treatment is found.
‘It’s dangerous for people to think this fight is over,’ Dr Duckett said.
‘The nature of the virus hasn’t changed – our behaviour has.
‘If Australians go back to a pre-COVID normal, the virus could spread quickly and wildly, like it has elsewhere.’
The report also recommends closing schools when a case arises, which is the policy being followed by authorities.
The institute says telehealth should become a permanent part of the healthcare system although in a way that doesn’t impede continuity of care.
Dr Duckett notes there will be a further surge in demand for mental health services after the pandemic, so technological solutions should be considered to help the overloaded system.