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Antibodies might not keep you safe for long. Restrictions continue to ease across the country. China is not immune (to content-free culture wars). And we regret to inform you that Donald Trump is at it again.

There is no good news

According to a new study published yesterday in Nature Medicine, coronavirus antibodies may last only two to three months after a person becomes infected, particularly in asymptomatic cases.

The research, conducted in China’s Wanzhou district, examined 37 asymptomatic people, and compared their antibody response to that of 37 people who had developed symptoms. It was found that people who didn’t have symptoms had a weaker antibody response than those who did.

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The study, though small, adds to concerns about the durability of immunity to the virus, even if a vaccine is developed.

Restrictions ease across the country

Victorian Health Minister Jenny Mikakos says plans to further ease Victoria’s coronavirus restrictions from this coming Monday will go ahead despite concerns over a spike in cases from the state’s top health advisers.

Deputy chief health officer Annaliese van Diemen has said the next stage in relaxing restrictions may be in jeopardy if Victoria’s new cases continue to rise.

However, Mikakos has insisted the increasing numbers would not affect the easing of restrictions planned for Monday — though they may affect any further measures.

And given the scrambling to find links between the mini-outbreak and Black Lives Matter protests, here’s something worth remembering, per chief nursing officer Alison McMillan:

I think it is important to remember that we are seeing about 6500 people, Australians, returning to our shores every week. So whilst these numbers are a little more than we’ve seen in recent days, we are seeing people return from places where there is a very high prevalence of COVID-19.

Elsewhere, the Northern Territory has announced plans to end mandatory quarantine for interstate visitors from mid-July, and South Australia plans to lift restrictions on school activities like assemblies, class pictures, and camps and excursions within the state from June 29.

Culture wars in China

Proving that culture wars with no substance but genuine consequences are not limited to Australia, an outbreak in Beijing last week claimed some unexpected collateral damage: imported salmon.

Reports from Beijing — seemingly part of the authorities’ attempts to deflect blame — initially blamed the outbreak on traces of the coronavirus that had been found on cutting boards used for imported salmon at a produce market.

The New York Times reports that by the time Chinese officials acknowledged that imported salmon was not actually the culprit for the outbreak, “business at Japanese restaurants in Beijing had dropped sharply, and salmon suppliers in Norway and the Faroe Islands had seen Chinese orders evaporate”.

Mask wars in the US

Wearing face masks — despite research showing they are (albeit marginally) the most effective form of limiting the spread of COVID-19 — has become just another partisan fracture in the US.

California Governor Gavin Newsom has announced the state will require people to wear masks in public. California is among those states where the outbreak is accelerating. The mayor of Orange County, Florida, announced plans to sign an executive order enforcing the same.

On the other end of the spectrum, President Donald Trump has suggested that some Americans are wearing masks not to prevent the spread of the virus, but to “spite him”. Oh, and that testing is “overrated” because “it makes us look bad”. And the governor of Nebraska plans to deny federal coronavirus funding allocated by the Cares Act to any local government which requires masks in its offices and courts. 

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Australia has spoken. We want more from the people in power and deserve a media that keeps them on their toes. And thank you, because it’s been made abundantly clear that at Crikey we’re on the right track.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief
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