COVID-19 cases pick up pace

Accelerating case numbers culminated in a record high in daily incidence of almost 80,000 on Aug 30 as total cases near #2 ranking Brazil on a global scale; India now sits third in reported deaths after overtaking Mexico. The Americas has six countries in the top 10 of global cases while per capita daily incidence is highest in the Maldives, Peru, Bahrain, Argentina and Colombia, according to the Aug 31 Johns Hopkins newsletter. In the WHO Epidemiological Update of the same date, it was noted that global mortality rates had declined in the previous week, however cases were up by one percent.

In more local news, Samoa’s state of emergency has been extended to Sept 27 as the nation strives to remain COVID-free. Other measures put forward by the Prime Minister include increasing managed quarantine for arrivals from two to three weeks ‘as well as a move to change a 2m social distance policy to 10m’.

In Africa, the WHO weekly bulletin’s lead article concerns the rising rates of serious cases COVID-19 in Ethiopia, particular in the setting of other outbreaks.

In other COVID-19 news:

- Evidence mounts on airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2, supporting the importance of ventilation: The results of two studies, one from China and the other the Netherlands, were summed up by CIDRAP – ‘One study found that patients can exhale millions of viral RNA particles per hour in the early stages of disease, and the second tied an outbreak affecting 81% of residents and 50% of healthcare workers at a Dutch nursing home to inadequate ventilation.’

- An editorial in The Lancet on ‘Air travel in the time of COVID-19’ notes ‘aeroplanes benefit from air-conditioning systems with far more sophisticated and effective filters than those generally found on the ground.’ Measures we may have to adapt to include: limiting touchpoints through reduced service offerings, rapid testing of passengers and crew, enhanced cleaning and the use of PPE. Firstly though, an effective vaccine to inspire the confidence of travellers.

- IATA issued a statement this week on the need to re-open international borders, putting forward a 3-point plan which includes ‘testing measures that will enable the re-opening of borders by reducing the risk of COVID-19 importation to what is acceptable to public health authorities with accuracy, speed and scalability that also meet the exacting requirements for incorporation into the travel process’.

- Updated Q&A page from the WHO: Staying at hotels and accommodation establishments and COVID-19

Before you travel, call Travelvax Australia’s telephone advisory service on 1300 360 164 (toll-free from landlines) for country-specific advice and information. You can also make an appointment at your nearest Travelvax clinic to obtain vaccinations, medication to prevent or treat illness, and accessories for your journey.