(Image: AAP/David Crosling)

Victoria moving in the right direction (sort of, a bit)

Victoria has detected 372 new COVID-19 cases — and 14 further deaths — over the last 24 hours. This is up from 278 cases yesterday, but, as Insiders executive producer Samuel Clark points out, the seven day moving average: 367 cases (down from 511 a week ago) is moving in the right direction.

Meanwhile, the report in The Age that “patient zero” in the state’s quarantine hotel outbreak was not a security guard but a night duty manager will hopefully draw a line through the “bonking security guard” myth, a persistent rumour that’s never been substantiated.

Frozen response

The cluster of new cases in New Zealand has grown to 17 — with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern warning things will get worse before they get better — and as epidemiologists try to piece together how the virus reemerged after 100 days without community spread, an odd new potential culprit has been identified: frozen food.

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State media in China reported this week that several cities had detected the coronavirus on imported food packaging and in imported frozen food, such as chicken wings imported from Brazil, raising fears that contaminated food shipments may be causing new outbreaks.

New Zealand’s director-general of health Ashley Bloomfield confirmed that a cold storage facility linked to the majority of new virus cases will be subjected to “environmental testing”. However, The New Daily reports that while the virus surviving in frozen food is possible, it’s highly unlikely.

Indeed, New Zealand’s deputy prime minister Winston Peters strongly implied a quarantine breach was to blame.

Stay jealous, world

This week, Russia claimed that a COVID-19 vaccine developed in the country had been given regulatory approval after a human testing period of less than two months. Understandably, this raised a lot questions in the international scientific community.

“‘Reckless’ is the mildest word you can use for the decision of the Russian authorities,” immunologist Jose Villadangos of the University of Melbourne told the ABC, joining scientists from Germany, France, Spain and the US who expressed concerns about the vaccine skipping many crucial steps.

All of which appears to strike Russia as… jealousy?

“It seems our foreign colleagues are sensing the specific competitive advantages of the Russian drug and are trying to express opinions that … are absolutely groundless,” Russia’s Health Minister Mikhail Murashko told the Interfax news agency on Wednesday.

Double trouble

Two people in China have tested positive for COVID-19 a second time. A 68-year-old woman in Hubei province — the site of the first outbreak — tested positive again this month after recovering from an infection in February.

And man in Shanghai, who initially recovered from an infection in April, was also found to be an asymptomatic carrier this week.

While none of the woman’s contacts have tested positive, the cases have revived serious concerns about the potential for people to be infected for a second time.

“We would expect that some infected persons could be vulnerable to reinfection, particularly as time passes,” Benjamin Cowling, an epidemiologist at the University of Hong Kong told The New York Times.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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