sign at front of ravenhall correction centre
(Image: AAP/James Ross)

Prison pandemic

Six prisons in Victoria are in lockdown after a guard who’d interacted with prisoners who were then transferred tested positive for COVID-19.  

They are Ravenhall Correctional Centre in Melbourne’s west, Hopkins Correctional Centre in Ararat, Langi Kal Kal near Ballarat, Barwon Prison near Geelong, Fulham Correctional Centre near Sale in Gippsland, and Loddon Prison at Castlemaine.

Face-to-face visits have been cancelled since the start of the pandemic. New prisoners are put in quarantine for 14 days and legal groups are calling for low-risk offenders to be released. 

As the inquiry into Victoria’s bungled hotel quarantine continues, security guards working at the hotels have told the ABC they were recruited via WhatsApp and told to bring their own face masks. Some were hired at $25 an hour as independent contractors. 

It has been reported this morning — ahead of an official confirmation — that Victoria reported a record of 484 cases overnight. NSW confirmed 16 new cases, all linked to known clusters.

Victoria’s chief health officer Brett Sutton has said there are signs the state’s six-week lockdown is working to curb exponential growth. 

The mask of Trump

Trump has done a U-turn on face masks, advising Americans for the first time to wear face coverings in crowded places (although he didn’t wear one during the press conference). 

He also warned the pandemic was going to get worse before it got better. 

A new study has found COVID-19 cases could be up to 13 times higher than reported in parts of the United States.

Data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed that about 40% of infected people didn’t develop symptoms, and others avoided medical care. Herd immunity is a long way off even in New York City, the most affected area of the study. 

A second study, again released by the CDC, found that by late April in Indiana 2.79% of residents had been infected; 44% reported no symptoms. 

It’s bad but can’t compare to Delhi, in India: there 22.8% of people have been infected

Vaccines coming in leaps and bounds

Following the University of Oxford’s vaccine breakthrough, another vaccine potential has emerged in China: researchers at the Jiangsu Provincial Center of Disease Control and Prevention have also completed human trials of a vaccine on 500 participants. Although it produced an immune response, it also produced adverse effects, including fever.

It seems the Chinese government is also putting effort into stealing a vaccine: the US will release an indictment accusing firms of stealing hundreds of millions of dollars worth of intellectual property and trade secrets from companies across the world.

Remote care

The Alfred hospital and Deakin University in Melbourne are lobbying the state government to implement at-home monitoring systems for COVID-19 patients with mild symptoms, with ambulances dispatched if the patient’s condition deteriorates.

The artificial intelligence program monitors oxygen levels — a killer in COVID-19 cases — via a finger probe. Vital signs are also analysed by the system’s algorithms, which take into account people’s pre-existing conditions.