A hotel security guard in Sydney has contracted Covid-19 from a returned traveller in quarantine and infection-control experts say that as long as the virus rages overseas, “hotel quarantine will remain a source of risk of further outbreaks”, Naaman Zhou reports.
It has been suggested that security guards should now be replaced at hotels by trained nurses.
The New South Wales chief health officer, Dr Kerry Chant, announced on Tuesday that a guard who worked at the Sydney Harbour Marriott hotel in Circular Quay had “most likely” contracted the virus from a traveller from the US, and subsequently worked at a court building, a market and a shopping centre in western Sydney while infectious.
Chant said genomic sequencing showed the strain of the virus the guard had acquired matched the traveller in quarantine. It was different from the clusters in Sydney, including the Crossroads hotel, which have been linked to Melbourne’s second wave.
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South Africa, which has had one of the world’s strictest lockdowns for five months, relaxed its restrictions today to permit the sales of alcohol and cigarettes and other returns to more ordinary life in response to decreasing new cases and hospitalisations for COVID-19.
The country has loosened its regulations to permit the opening of bars, restaurants, gyms, and places of worship, all limited to no more than 50 people. Schools will reopen gradually from August 24, starting with grades 12 and 7 and a phased opening of other grades.
With more than 589,000 confirmed cases, South Africa has more than half of all reported cases in Africa. The 54 countries of the continent reported a total of more than 1.1 million cases on Tuesday, according to the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, the Associated Press reports.
South Africa has recorded more than 11,900 deaths from COVID-19, while overall the continent has reported just over 25,800 deaths. The actual numbers of cases and deaths are estimated to be much higher, say health experts.
South Africa’s new confirmed cases have dropped from an average of 12,000 per day at the peak in July to less than 5,000 per day last week.
Infection being spread by ‘unaware’ younger people, WHO warns
The World Health Organization has warned that Covid-19 is now being spread mainly by people in their 20s, 30s and 40s who may be unaware they are infected, potentially transmitting the disease to more vulnerable groups.
In a virtual briefing, the WHO’s western Pacific regional director, Dr Takeshi Kasai, said:
The epidemic is changing … People in their 20s, 30s and 40s are increasingly driving the spread. Many are unaware they are infected. This increases the risk of spillovers to the more vulnerable.
Surges have been reported in countries that appeared to have the virus under control, including Vietnam, which until recently went three months without domestic transmission due to its aggressive mitigation efforts, Reuters reported.
“What we are observing is not simply a resurgence. We believe it’s a signal that we have entered a new phase of pandemic in the Asia-Pacific,” Kasai said.
Indonesia has reported 1,673 new coronavirus infections, bringing the total number of cases in the south-east Asian nation to 143,043, data from the country’s health ministry showed. The data recorded an additional 70 deaths, taking the total to 6,277.
These look like scenes of yesteryear but thousands of people packed out a water park in Wuhan, China, over the weekend as much of the rest of the world remained under lockdown restrictions.
Philippines records more than 3,000 new cases seventh day in a row
The Philippines’ health ministry confirmed 4,836 novel coronavirus infections, the seventh consecutive day of reporting more than 3,000 daily cases, Reuters reports.
In a bulletin, the ministry said total confirmed cases had increased to 169,213, while there were seven additional deaths – bringing the total toll to 2,687.
The Filipino president, Rodrigo Duterte, on Monday eased the strict coronavirus lockdown in the capital, Manila, and nearby provinces to reopen the economy and help struggling businesses, despite the country having the highest number of infections in south-east Asia.
Russia has reported 4,748 new coronavirus cases, Reuters reports, continuing its steady downward trend. Its nationwide tally stands at 932,493, the fourth largest in the world.
Russia’s coronavirus crisis response centre said 132 people had died of the disease in the last 24 hours, bringing the official coronavirus death toll to 15,872.
Russia’s energy minister Alexander Novak has tested positive for the coronavirus, the country’s prime minister has said according to state media.
“Unfortunately, Alexander Valentinovich Novak has been taken ill with the coronavirus”, prime minister Mikhail Mishustin told a government meeting in Blagoveshchensk, in Russia’s Far East, the Interfax news agency said.
It said several journalists accompanying the prime minister on the far aast tour, which began last week, have also tested positive for coronavirus and have been forced to return to Moscow.
Several Russian political figures have been infected with the virus in recent months, including Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov and some ministers and lawmakers.
Russia on Monday had officially recorded 927,745 infections, including 15,740 deaths from Covid-19.
Finland’s Prime Minister Sanna Marin said on Tuesday she would take a COVID-19 test due to mild symptoms of an infection.
“I have mild respiratory symptoms. I will take a corona test and work remotely,” Marin said on Twitter.
Last week, Finland recommended the use of face masks in public for the first time as the number of coronavirus cases rises.
Earthquake strikes central Philippines
A magnitude 6.6 earthquake has struck central Philippines, killing at least one person and damaging roads and buildings including a hospital and a sports complex being used as a novel coronavirus quarantine centre.
It was the strongest earthquake in eight months in the Philippines, Reuters reports. It struck the central town of Cataingan, which has a population of more than 50,000 people and is near the epicentre
The Philippines, which has a population of 107 million, has the most coronavirus cases in Southeast Asia with more than 164,000 confirmed infections and 2,681 deaths
Australia has recorded its lowest one-day rise in new Covid-19 infections in a month, Reuters reports, boosting hopes that a stringent lockdown in the country’s second-most populous state has prevented a fresh wave of cases nationally.
Led by cases in Victoria state – the epicentre of Australia’s latest COVID-19 outbreak – Australia said it has detected 226 new infections in the past 24 hours, the lowest since July 18 when 212 cases were recorded.
The national figure is well below the more than 700 infections detected in a single day earlier this month, almost all of which were in Victoria.
“We have seen numbers going up and down recently, but by and large what we are seeing is a continuing downward trend,” Australia’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer Michael Kidd told reporters in Canberra.