Man catches COVID twice, Aussie strain more infectious
Researchers have documented the first case of coronavirus reinfection as a patient was diagnosed with a second case of COVID-19 more than four months after the first, scientists in Hong Kong said.
"An apparently young and healthy patient had a second case of COVID-19 infection which was diagnosed 4.5 months after the first episode," University of Hong Kong researchers said Monday in a statement according to the New York Times.
The 33-year-old man had mild symptoms the first time, and no symptoms with the second infection.
The reinfection was discovered when he returned from a trip to Spain.
The virus they sequenced closely matched the strain circulating in Europe in July and August.
"Our results prove that his second infection is caused by a new virus that he acquired recently rather than prolonged viral shedding," said Dr. Kelvin Kai-Wang To, a clinical microbiologist at the University of Hong Kong.
The report is worrying because it suggests that immunity to coronavirus may last only a few months in some people.
That information could impact the vaccines that are being developed.
Recovered COVID-19 sufferers are known to shed viral fragments for weeks, which can cause tests to show a positive result after the live virus has passed but until now doctors had thought that reinfection was rare and scientifically unconfirmed.
The Hong Kong man displayed two sets of virus, suggesting that the patient had become infected a second time by a different strain of the virus.
It comes as international researchers confirmed a more infectious strain of coronavirus is the most common type in Australia.
According to the Bedford lab, which pulls together global genomic data on COVID-19, D614G or the G-variant, is now the most prevalent form of the virus in Australia.
University of Sydney Professor Edward Holmes - a leading expert on the virus, told Nine Newspapers whilst evidence showed the mutation increased infectivity, it would not make people sicker.
"In nature, my guess is it also increases infectivity a bit but not massively so," he said.
"I think it will have a moderate effect, not a massive effect. There has been a lot of talk about this mutation but I don't think it's hugely significant."
VIC MOURNS COVID-19 DEATHS, SEES DROP
The number of new COVID-19 infections in Victoria has fallen, with 116 new cases and 15 deaths recorded on Monday.
"I'm saddened to say there are 430 Victorians who have lost their life to this global pandemic," Premier Daniel Andrews said.
"Our thoughts and present best wishes are with each of those families. This will be a difficult time for them. We send our sympathies and condolences to them."
The group of 15 is made up of three females and five males in their 80s, four females and two males in their 90s, and one female in her 100s. All the deceases are linked to aged care outbreaks.
There are 629 Victorians in hospital, 31 of those receiving intensive care and 17 of those 31 are on a ventilator.
Premier Andrews also announced he plans to change legislation to allow Victoria's state of emergency to be in place for up to 18 months.
Currently, the state of emergency can be in place for six months under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act.
Legislation will be introduced next week.
Since being introduced in March, the state of emergency has been extended six times, but can be in place no longer than six months.
"Without a vaccine, this pandemic is far from over," Mr Andrews said.
"These legislative changes will mean we continue to have the right protections in place until it is."
The state of emergency allows regulations including stay at home directions and face covering laws to operate.
It comes as NSW had three new cases of COVID on Monday, bringing the state's total to 3800.
NSW Chief Medical Officer Dr Kerry Chant said of the three new cases, two cases were acquired overseas and the people were in hotel quarantine.
One case was a close contact of a previous case with a healthcare worker at Liverpool Hospital. They are in self-isolation for an infectious period because they had been identified as the contact of a patient.
The second is a security guard who worked at Sydney Harbour Marriott hotel. He attended a number of venues, potentially in his infectious period, however, further testing has indicated his level of infectiousness at that time was very low.
THE COUNTRIES WITH 'NO CORONAVIRUS'
It comes as a list of countries who recorded zero coronavirus cases was made public.
There are only 10 United Nations member countries with no recorded COVID-19 cases.
All of them are Pacific Ocean islands: the Republic of Palau, Micronesia, the Republic of Nauru (a microstate of Micronesia), the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Republic of Kiribati, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, the independent State of Samoa, the Republic of Vanuatu and the Kingdom of Tonga, the BBC has reported.
These assorted isles and archipelagos aggressively closed their borders, and although they lost their tourism sector in the process they are not facing the same health crisis as the rest of the world.
While suffering economically, most residents are happy with the tough measures taken by their governments to protect the vulnerable island nations.
"I think they did a good job," Brian Lee, a hotelier on Palau told the BBC of the government's decision to functionally close, and keep closed, the republic's borders since March. Still, if Palau's borders do not soon open, even with the nation's public financial support, he may have to shutter his business.
"I can stay for another half-a-year," said Lee, who usually enjoys a 70 to 80 per cent occupancy rate but now finds himself struggling to keep his 20-some-person staff busy.
"Then I may have to close."
The Marshall Islands may lose more than 700 jobs as a result of the pandemic, as quarantine restrictions have cut off tourism as well as exports from sectors such as fishing.
But that seems unavoidable and better than enduring a health crisis.
"Even if they kept their borders open, their major tourism markets of Australia and New Zealand wouldn't be open, as they've locked down their own borders," Jonathan Pryke, director of the Pacific Islands program at an independent international policy think tank told the BBC.
"If the islands had chosen to prioritise their economy, they would have the worst of both worlds - a health crisis and an economic crisis," said Mr Pryke.
FAUCI PRAISES AUSSIE RESPONSE
America's top doctor has lauded Australia's response to the coronavirus, saying the country has done "a really good job" in response to the pandemic.
"When we talk about who did it right, I mean, Australia always comes up as one of the countries that has done it right," Dr Anthony Fauci said in an exclusive interview with 60 Minutes.
"I mean, you have suffered the way many of us have. But when you look, comparatively speaking, you've done a really good job."
He also said that he believed Australia had picked the right vaccine candidate to protect against COVID-19.
Dr Fauci said the potential vaccine secured by the Australian government last week was one of the top candidates for a safe and effective vaccine.
"The candidate that comes out of the UK is now being tested by the British in Brazil and in South Africa," he told 60 Minutes.
He told the news program he was confident there will be a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of the year, with recent advances in technology helping to speed up the process of developing a safe and effective vaccine significantly.
"The proof in the pudding, obviously, is going to be what the result of the trial is. But those kinds of inklings make us have some aspirational hope that by the time we get to the end of the year, we'll have a vaccine."
Dr Fauci also maintained that there would be no cutting of corners in finding the most effective vaccine.
"Even though it looks like it's very, very fast, the speed of it is only because of the advances in technology," Dr Fauci said.
"If you just look and say, 'Well, wait a minute. You said this usually takes a few years, and now you did it in a year or less. Did you sacrifice anything that would be troublesome?'
"And the answer, quite frankly, is no."
Dr Fauci also spoke about his, at times, contentious relationship with Donald Trump, saying the pair actually get on well.
"Sometimes, I don't see him for a while, and sometimes, I see him a couple of times a week. But, our personal relationship is good," Dr Fauci told reporter Tara Brown.
BABY TESTS POSITIVE TO VIRUS
Meanwhile, handshakes and hugs are set to become a thing of the past as Australia's coronavirus death toll has passed a grim milestone with over 500 deaths.
Delivering the federal government's COVID-19 update, Australia's chief nursing and midwifery officer, Alison McMillan, said we have "reached a point at the moment where a handshake is no longer something we should be doing socially."
Ms McMillan also said, "When it comes to hugs … when it comes to the broader community, and hugging others outside of your family unit, then no, we really think at this point in time we need to think of innovative and different ways to show a welcome or a greeting to somebody, but it's not a hug."
Originally published as Man catches COVID twice, Aussie strain more infectious