24 July 2020

Troops help COVID-19 contact tracing efforts in Victoria

Communicable Disease COVID-19 Live blog

Welcome to The Medical Republic‘s COVID Catch-Up.

It’s the day’s COVID-19 news into one convenient post. Got any tips, comments or feedback? Email me at [email protected]


24 July


  • The Australian Defence Force is helping the Victorian health department with contact tracing by visiting the homes of those who have tested positive but cannot be contacted by phone.
    Speaking at a press conference today, Premier Dan Andrews said the partnership with the Australian Defence Force will see around 1400 personnel working with health department officials to door-knock and interview COVID-19-positive individuals for contact tracing. The premier said the aim is to have everyone who has tested positive be contacted within 24 hours of their test result, either by phone or in person. Those individuals who cannot be contacted by telephone after two attempts in two hours will be visited at home in person.
    “We are taking extra steps, making extra efforts to make sure we are contacting each and every one of those positive cases,” the premier said.
    He also thanked most Victorians for adhering to restrictions, and commented that if stage three restrictions had not been enacted, the state would likely be seeing thousands of new cases of COVID-19 each day. Despite the restrictions, six more lives have been lost to COVID-19, all in Victoria and all in aged care homes.
  • Home-made face masks should ideally consist of three layers of fabric, say the authors of a paper comparing the effectiveness of different mask styles in minimising droplet and aerosol dispersion.
    The non-peer-reviewed study, published in Thorax, compared the one-layer t-shirt-fabric masks and two-layer fabric mask pattern shared by the US Centers for Disease Control, with the three-layer standard surgical mask. The authors used LED lighting and a high-speed camera to photograph the dispersal of droplets and aerosols during speaking, coughing and sneezing with each type of mask.
    The study, which involved a single volunteer, found that a single-layer mask was better than nothing, a double-layer mask was better than single, but three layers beat them all. “Guidelines on home-made cloth masks should stipulate multiple layers (at least 3),” they wrote.
  • From TMR’s Francine Crimmins: GPs are just one software update away from being able to issue e-scripts that can be sent via email or text to patients and their carers.
    From today GPs in every state and territory, other the Queensland, have access to the new Bp Premier software Jade Sp3, which enables the generation of e-scripts.
    GPs who want to try out e-scripts for themselves will first have to upgrade their patient management system to a compatible version, and check they are sending patients to pharmacies who are e-script software ready.
    In good news, patients won’t need a fancy smart phone to receive digital script tokens from their GP, all that is required is a mobile device that is capable of receiving a text message.
    Read more about how you can your practice e-script ready here.
  • It’s being labelled ‘the Anthropause’; a pandemic-related quieting of the seismic noise associated with human activity. In a paper published in Science, researchers have reported up to a 50% decline in higher frequency seismic noise during the COVID-19 pandemic.
    The study compiled seismic noise measurements from 337 citizen seismometer stations around the world – with special mention to a seismometer device called a ‘Raspberry Shake’ – and how changes corresponded to lockdowns.
    For example, a surface station in Brussels recorded a 33% reduction in high-frequency seismic noise after lockdowns were introduced, while the greatest reduction was seen in Sri Lanka, where there was a 50% reduction after lockdown. Large declines were especially seen at schools and universities after lockdowns were introduced.
    “The length and quiescence of this period represents the longest and most coherent global seismic noise reduction in recorded history, highlighting how human activities impact the solid Earth,” the authors wrote.
  • The GISAID – Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data – Initiative now has more than 71,000 SARS-CoV-2 genome sequences in its database, which is enabling the study into the genomic epidemiology of the virus. In WHO’s latest COVID-19 situation report, they noted that thanks to the global sharing of genomic data on SARS-CoV-2, researchers have been able to identify a particular mutation in the virus’s spike protein which may be linked to increased transmissibility
  • The National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce supports ‘rooming-in’ of mother and newborns after birth, but mothers with COVID-19 should use infection control – mask and hand hygiene – while infectious.
  • For your Friday afternoon enjoyment, here is US comedian Sarah Cooper’s take on Trump’s rambling description of a cognitive test he apparently aced a few years back. Geriatricians will have a field day with this.

  • NSW Health now requires all health workers in public hospitals and community health settings to wear surgical masks if they are within 1.5 metres of patients. Patients are also asked to wear masks where possible. New case numbers in NSW are slightly lower to 9pm yesterday, with seven new cases recorded. Six are connected to the Thai Rock cluster, and one is unknown as yet.
    The three new cases recorded in Western Australia are all historical cases, while South Australia has one new case in a returned traveller in quarantine.
    Here are the latest confirmed COVID-19 infections around Australia to 9pm Thursday:
    National – 13,306, with 133 deaths and 211 hospitalised.
    ACT – 113
    NSW – 3633
    NT – 31
    QLD – 1074
    SA – 447
    TAS – 229
    VIC – 7125
    WA – 654
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