Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (Image: AP/Salvatore Di Nolfi)

Victoria’s contact tracing has reportedly not been up to scratch. NSW is on alert for a rise in cases from Victoria. A US case spike has been connected to a Trump rally. And the World Health Organization director-general breaks down in tears.

Victoria’s contact tracing fail

The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) has found Victorian health officials did not adhere to national guidelines for COVID-19 contact tracing. Officials reportedly neglected to make daily follow up calls to close contacts of COVID-19 cases to check for flu-like symptoms. 

Meanwhile in Victoria, eight of the nine public housing towers placed into hard lockdown in Melbourne have had restrictions eased, with residents who have returned a negative COVID-19 test, and who haven’t been in close contact with someone who has been infected, now allowed to leave the building for grocery shopping,  exercise, work or education and medical care or caregiving.

One block in North Melbourne remains in lockdown for another nine days after recording 55 positive cases. Residents will be allowed to leave for medical care and supervised daily exercise.

The Melbourne surge in cases means intensive care units could soon be at capacity, with 81% of the nation’s 2076 staffed units full. Elective surgeries are expected to be cancelled to free up beds. 

Yesterday Victoria reported 165 new cases of COVID-19.

This morning the Victorian government announced a $534 million support package for businesses affected by the latest shut down.

Queensland’s borders will reopen to everywhere but Victoria today. 

WHO chief’s tears

World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has broken down in tears during a speech in Geneva, Switzerland, criticising the “lack of leadership and solidarity” during the crisis.

He urged world leaders to open up to scrutiny and unite to fight the coronavirus.

An international investigation into the pandemic, headed by former New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark will deliver a verdict in May 2021. 

NSW waiting for bad news

It will be weeks before we know if the Victorian coronavirus outbreak has made it to NSW, Premier Gladys Berejiklian has said.

On Wednesday, police were called to a pub in the Sydney suburb of Double Bay to disperse crowds and a queue of hundreds waiting to get in.

A 63-year-old returned traveller broke out of hotel quarantine in Sydney halfway through her stay and tried to board an international flight, telling security she had an exemption to leave to work as a flight attendant. Australian Border Force caught the Queensland woman at the airport, issued her with a $1000 fine and returned her to quarantine. 

Trump rally surge

A surge in coronavirus cases in Tulsa, Oklahoma has been linked to a rally held by US President Donald Trump last month. Officials confirmed 206 new cases in the city on Tuesday and a record high for the county of 261 on Monday. Tulsa Health Department director Dr Bruce Dart told The New York Times: “The past two days we’ve had almost 500 cases, and we know we had several large events a little over two weeks ago, which is about right. So I guess we just connect the dots.”

Storm brewing in Africa

New COVID-19 cases in Africa are up 24% over the past week. The continent had appeared to have avoided the worst of the pandemic until now, with concerns hospitals will be overwhelmed. Limited testing, and states’ reluctance to share information, has experts worried there are many cases unrecorded. 

South Africa has recorded more than 238,000 cases, while Nigeria has more than 30,000. 

It’s estimated that nearly 50 million Africans could be driven into extreme poverty following the economic fallout of the crisis.

Peter Fray

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