daniel andrews
(Image: AAP/Daniel Pockett)

Borders between Victoria and NSW will close as Victoria records another death and records its highest daily total of cases. Overseas, Brits flock to the streets as pubs reopen. And the Center for Disease Control has been criticised for repeating the same mistakes it did when the zika virus emerged. 

Victoria’s ‘vertical cruise ships

This morning, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced that the Victoria-NSW border would close, as his authorities recorded 127 new cases, the highest number since the pandemic began. A man in his 90s died overnight from the disease.

In attempts to suppress the virus, nine North Melbourne and Flemington public housing estates were put into a hard lockdown on Saturday, with about 3000 residents barred from leaving their homes. 

Food and essential supplies have been distributed, but residents have reported a delay in communication and delivery, with some still waiting for baby formula and medication to be delivered on Sunday afternoon. 

A photo of one food box showed it contained baked beans, pasta, apple juice, and muesli bars but no milk, bread or fresh produce. 

On Sunday there were 27 coronavirus cases in the public housing towers, but not all the towers locked down have confirmed cases.

Authorities are preparing to see a spike in daily cases following a testing blitz of residents. Australia’s acting chief medical officer Professor Paul Kelly has compared the apartments to “vertical cruise ships”.

The hard lockdown is expected to last at least until Wednesday. 

Over the weekend, the Victorian government increased the number of Melbourne postcodes subject to stay-at-home orders to 12. The CBD may soon also join the lockdown. Supermarket shelves have once again been stripped of non-perishables. 

Yesterday Victoria recorded 74 new cases. There were 108 new cases on Saturday. 

Welcome to the hotel quarantine

Fresh allegations of lax policies have emerged about quarantine hotel the Holiday Inn near Melbourne’s airport, which continues to take bookings from members of the public. 

A guest has said guards delivering food were not wearing masks, while a staff member said employees collecting dirty linen were working between quarantine and non-quarantined floors.

The source of COVID-19?

The UK’s The Sunday Times has alleged the Wuhan Institute of Virology first discovered a close match to COVID-19 seven years ago in an abandoned copper mine, an article republished in The Australian.

A team in hazmat suits collected samples from a bat cave at the mine after six men had become infected with “uncontrollable pneumonia”, killing three.

Some experts say this virus would need 50 years of mutation to fully match COVID-19. The World Health Organisation maintains evidence shows the virus did not originate from a lab.

Discriminatory virus

New data from the US’s Center for Disease Control (CDC) has shown Latino and African-American US residents have been three times as likely to become infected as their white neighbours. Black and Latino people are also nearly twice as likely to die from the virus compared to white Americans. 

Restrictions give and take

In London the pubs have reopened, leading to throngs of people hitting the streets to enjoy a night out. 

The police federation has said drunk people are unable to properly socially distance. Under relaxed restrictions, which came into effect on Saturday, pubs, restaurants, hairdressers and cinemas opened for the first time since March 23

Spain, which reopened its borders to other EU countries and the UK, has put parts of the country back into lockdown amid a surge in cases.

Questions have been raised in the US about the government’s ability to handle outbreaks. In 2016 when the zika virus emerged, senior CDC officials in 2016 sidelined an effective test for it. They instead opted to use tests manufactured by the agency which were complicated and unreliable. 

A similar trend emerged during the coronavirus pandemic, with a nationwide rollout of effective testing delayed for more than a month after cases emerged. The CDC had again favoured its own, unreliable tests. 

Peter Fray

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