Victoria and Melbourne COVID-19 Update in regards to loosened restrictions

COVID-19 Information June Update

by Mackenzie Gignac

COVID-19 Update: June 2020

We are cautiously getting back towards normality as the rest of the world struggles to deal with the challenges of COVID-19 infection. Australia is in the enviable position of having very low infection rates, allowing cautious relaxation of restrictions and a slow return towards normal life. Since the onset of the outbreak, Victoria has conducted over 500,000 COVID-19 tests, 0.3% of which returned positive. With the notable exception of isolated “clusters” of infections (such as the one at the Cedar Meats factory), community transmission (meaning we don’t know how a person caught the virus) is very uncommon in Victoria at the moment, with less than 10 new cases per day.

What does this mean for our patients?

  • As the restrictions are relaxed and people gather in larger crowds, community transmissions are bound to rise. Hopefully these new clusters can be identified and contained quickly by public health officials. However, if we get a substantial number of new cases (say more than 100 per day), then it is an indication that the virus is more widespread than we think, and for patients at particular risk (eg over 70 years old, or have a blood cancer) to take stringent precautions again.
  • In the meantime, one has to get on with life. So, keep on social distancing, avoid large crowds, clean your hands often, and if you are at particular risk (eg over 70 years old, or have a blood cancer) consider wearing a mask in crowded indoor areas.
  • What about kids and grandkids? Once again, one has to get on with life accepting cautious risks. For reasons that are unclear, COVID-19 is relatively uncommon in children. In Victoria, only 58 cases have been recorded in children 0 to 14 years old. This is only 3.5% of the total confirmed cases in Victoria. So, contact with kids is likely ok. However, if the case numbers start to climb after school returns, we may need to take stringent precautions again.

    An update on COVID treatments:

    A large study comparing Remdesivir to placebo (the ACTT Study) was discussed at our last COVID-19 update, and this study is now published in New England Journal of Medicine. The conclusions remain the same – recovery time is faster in patients treated with Remdesivir (11 days, compared with 15 days for placebo), but the chances of surviving the infection have not been proven to be better to date.

  • Not such good news for Hydroxychloroquine. A large study published in Lancet showed that patients receiving Hydroxychloroquine had higher chances of dying, due to heart problems which are known side-effects of the drug.

So as before, prevention is the key. Stay safe, and we hope you (cautiously) enjoy your new freedoms.