daniel andrews putting on a mask
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews (Image: AAP/James Ross)

Modeling solutions

Victoria has recorded another 450 cases overnight — still a way off the “secret Victorian government modelling” The Australian published yesterday, suggesting that daily new case numbers would exceed 1000 in late August.

As Christopher Warren writes elsewhere in Crikey today, the Victorian government has since denied the figures came from their (or any) government.

The state has also recorded 11 new deaths — seven connected to nursing homes.

CSIRO launches mask testing

Australia’s top boffins are turning their talents to testing surgical face masks.

The CSIRO’s new facility in Melbourne “has the capacity to provide a rapid turnaround on surgical face mask testing, helping manufacturers fast-track the supply of masks for frontline healthcare workers,” it says.

And, if any reminder of the need for rigorous testing were needed: in the UK, the government has bought 50 million masks for the National Health Service — as part of a £252 million contract with Ayanda Capital, an “opaque family fund owned through a tax haven” with no history in healthcare — that it can’t use.

The masks, which use ear-loop fastenings rather than head loops, may not fit tightly enough.

The sick men of Europe

As had been darkly hinted through the week, France and Germany have experienced increase in COVID-19 cases.

On Wednesday France reported 1695 new coronavirus cases, while Germany on Thursday reported 1045 — in both cases, the country hadn’t seen numbers that high since May.

France’s scientific council warned that a second wave of infections by Autum was “highly possible” given current trends. 

Belgium is also facing a surge, with a rate of 49.2 new cases per 100,000 people (to put that in perspective, the UK is currently at 14.3) and has been added to the UK and Germany’s quarantine lists.

Elsewhere, the Netherlands’ government says it does not need to go into a second lockdown, despite a sharp increase in infection numbers.

In slightly more charming European news, the pandemic has brought about a revival of buchette del vino (“wine windows”) in Florence. The windows are tiny, centuries-old hatches that date back to the time of the plague, which allowed wine makers to sell surplus product to the working class without, you know, having to touch them.

Don’t drink hand sanitiser

Following the adventures the United States has had thanks to President Donald Trump’s belief in the healing properties of bleach — or the less-obviously bananas but seemingly no more effective hydroxychloroquine — health authorities have issued a formal warning this week about the dangers of drinking hand sanitiser.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has told poison control centres across the country to be on the lookout for cases of methanol toxicity after four people died and 11 became ill (some now suffering from impaired vision) after swallowing alcohol-based hand sanitiser in the past two months.

While the CDC has said some people had consumed it for its alcohol content, it was, according The New York Times, not immediately clear if anyone had drunk the hand sanitiser for its disinfectant properties.