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Home / Latest News / Coronavirus updates LIVE: Victoria records no new COVID-19 cases for fifth consecutive day as US battles with surge in infections amid 2020 election; Australian death toll stands at 907

Coronavirus updates LIVE: Victoria records no new COVID-19 cases for fifth consecutive day as US battles with surge in infections amid 2020 election; Australian death toll stands at 907

We finally have a date for the reopening of the Victoria-New South Wales border: November 23.

That’s just 19 days away and I know it’s going to mean a hell of a lot for a lot of people. The border closed back on July 8 (almost four months ago).

We asked readers a few weeks ago what the border re-opening would mean for them, but at that point we didn’t have a concrete date.

I’d love to hear from you again today on the back of the news – have you got plans to visit family or friends? Will you be heading north to NSW, or down the Hume to Melbourne? What are you most looking forward to? Leave your responses in the response box above.

I’ll share responses throughout the rest of the afternoon. If you’re happy to chat to a reporter down the track for reunion stories, please leave an email or phone number we can reach you on.

Some of you have asked for the Victorian testing number for today.

There have been 17,357 tests processed since yesterday, and no new cases found.

Here’s how that compares to testing numbers and out comes over the past week:

Tuesday: 12,841 (with no new cases)
Monday: 12,956 (with no new cases)
Sunday: 15,998 (with no new cases)
Saturday: 19,850 (with no new cases)
Friday: 23,583 (with four new cases)
Thursday: 24,135 (with three new cases)
Wednesday: 24,673 (with two new cases)

While we’re on the topic of masks, science reporter Liam Mannix has this great piece on how public health advice has changed since the start of the pandemic, and why:

When COVID-19 emerged, health professionals knew almost nothing about how it spread, what it did to people or how to treat it.

The virus was new to humans. The two coronavirus outbreaks that preceded it, MERS and SARS, had vanished before experts had a chance to learn much about them.

Associate Professor Jason Trubiano at the Austin's COVID unit.

Associate Professor Jason Trubiano at the Austin’s COVID unit.Credit:Luis Enrique Ascui

Fighting an unknown enemy, scientists were forced to rely on knowledge from other disease outbreaks, and doctors had to take guesses at what treatments might work based on sketchy evidence.

Yet Australia has managed to come through with some of the world’s best survival rates. One reason: the nation has mostly avoided many of the non-evidence-based treatments used in other countries.

“I think we got the care right,” said Jason Trubiano, head of the COVID-19 unit at Austin Health. “I really do.”

In February experts thought: COVID-19 is transmitted by coughing and sneezing and touching infected surfaces. Masks don’t work.

Now experts think: In certain circumstances, the virus can spread in indoor air. There is debate about surfaces. Masks work.

The advice from the federal government has stayed the same throughout the pandemic: the biggest risk of catching COVID-19 comes from close contact with another person or touching an infected surface.

But nine months in, there remains no conclusive proof the virus can spread on surfaces. The World Health Organisation is unaware of a single confirmed case. Some critics think the risks are overstated.

Some scientists now believe the virus is contained in tiny droplets spread when people speak loudly, which can travel through an entire room and hang in the air for hours. The Australian government does not think it is a major risk. But there are now hundreds of cases around the world “which are really difficult to explain unless you invoke aerosols,” said Associate Professor Euan Tovey, a respiratory virus researcher at the University of Sydney.

Read the full story here.

Victoria is now at a point where strict face mask policies could start to be tweaked but the government may be holding out for psychological reasons, according to one epidemiologist from La Trobe University.

Associate Professor at La Trobe University Dr Hassan Vally said told radio station 3AW this morning that considering the low level of virus in the state, the risks of not wearing masks in places like beaches and parks now were “pretty minimal”.

“I think we are getting to the point where we squash transmission to such an extent that the risks when you’re outdoors, and in the open environment are pretty minimal,” he said.

“I expect there to be some announcements on mandatory mask wearing in those outdoor environments sometime soon.”

Currently Victorians must wear a mask anytime they leave their homes – for shopping and for work but also for walking the dog, or laying on the beach.

Dr Vally said he would advocate for mandatory masks in supermarket, public transport and cinemas while easing the requirements for outdoors.

This morning Premier Daniel Andrews said he didn’t want to confuse people by changing rules, but Dr Vally said other jurisdictions had been able to apply nuanced mask rules.

“I think Victorians have shown how responsible they are. And I think they’ll be able to cope with that sort of modification of the requirements,” he said.

But the epidemiologist conceded the government may not want to dilute the messaging on masks in case compliance drops.

“I’m glad I’m not in government having to make these decisions. Because… it’s not just the pure science in terms of the health perspective, it’s the psychology that’s important,” he said.

“It’s been a massive change to what’s considered normal in society. You know, eight months ago, wearing a mask would have been weird, and would have been something that people would have had a second take at someone who was wearing a mask on a tram and now we’ve switched that around wear mask wearing has been made acceptable.

“Now we need to find that balance of wearing the mask when they, you know, serve a very useful purpose. And sort of dispensing the use of masks in situations where they don’t offer it.”

Just 30 cases of COVID-19 remain in Victoria (that authorities know about, at least). That’s eight fewer than yesterday, 50 fewer than a week ago and 211 fewer than a month ago.

What do we know about these active 30 cases?

  • Two are in hospital, neither in ICU. (no change from yesterday).
  • All of them live in metropolitan Melbourne.
  • Two are health care workers (no change from yesterday).
  • One is linked to an aged care facility, a staff member (-2 since yesterday).
  • Six are part of the northern metropolitan outbreak (-2 since yesterday).
  • Two are officially mystery cases with no known source (no change since yesterday).

Where are the 30 active cases?

  • Six are in Wyndham
  • Four are in Brimbank
  • Two are in Casey
  • Two are in Darebin
  • Two are in Greater Dandenong
  • Two are in Hume
  • Two are in Melton
  • One is in Banyule
  • One is in Frankston
  • One is in Glen Eira
  • One is in Hobsons Bay
  • One is in Melbourne City
  • One is on Monash
  • One is in Moreland
  • One is in Port Phillip
  • One is in Whittlesea
  • One is in Yarra

Ah, it’s such a joy to hear of how excited readers are to see their loved ones again when the NSW-Victoria border opens again on November 23. Here’s some of the responses so far:

  • I am seriously thinking about working from regional NSW for two weeks in a non-hotspot LGA so that I could get to Queensland in time for Christmas. I’m in the extremely lucky position of “have laptop, can work”. I have flight credits with an agency, I’ll be sending them an email tonight to see if they can work something out. Clinton Roy.
  • Travel to Melbourne and see my friends that I have not seen in 1 year! Also enjoy the coffee scene and Melbourne/Victoria vibes 🙂 Camille
  • I can’t wait to see my family in Sydney. The last time they saw me in June and I had go back to Melbourne earlier because I was having a miscarriage. Now, 4 months later, I am pregnant and can’t wait for my family to see me and my bump. It’s going to be the best reunion ever. They are also desperately missing their granddaughter so it’s going to be a special moment to see that first hug between them! Relieved

  • I am at university in Victoria, with my mum in QLD and my dad in NSW. I have not seen my dad since January and will be heading up to NSW as soon as the borders open! After spending two weeks in regional NSW I can then enter QLD which works out perfectly. Anonymous

  • The border should be closed from the Victoria side – NSW does not have COVID under control – why would we risk all our hard work ???? Anonymous.

  • I’m in Melbourne and haven’t seen my parents and siblings (who all live in Western Sydney) since March. I am wary of crowds rushing the airports the moment the border opens, so I’m going to at least another couple of weeks before planning a trip. The last thing I want to do is to accidentally infect my elderly parents! Lara

  • My partner lives in Albury – just shy of the arbitrary border. I’ll be taking a week off work to spend time with her. It’s been too long. Ellee

Happy to keep receiving all your responses. As I said earlier, leave us an email or phone number if you’re happy to chat with a reporter at some stage about reunions.

A study of the lungs of people who have died from COVID-19 has found persistent and extensive lung damage in most cases and may help doctors understand what is behind a syndrome known as ‘long COVID’, in which patients suffer ongoing symptoms for months.

Mauro Giacca, a professor at King’s College London who co-led the work, said that while his research team found no overt signs of viral infection or prolonged inflammation in other organs, they discovered “really vast destruction of the architecture of the lungs”, with healthy tissue “almost completely substituted by scar tissue”.

Giacca said almost 90 per cent of the 41 patients in the study had several characteristics unique to COVID-19 compared to other forms of pneumonia. One was that patients had extensive blood clotting of the lung arteries and veins. Another was that some lung cells were abnormally large and had many nuclei – a result of the fusion of different cells into single large cells in a process known as syncytia.

Read more about what it’s like to live with the effects of coronavirus here.

Bit by bit, Victoria is returning to something like ‘normal’. With no new COVID-19 cases or deaths recorded for the fifth day in a row on Wednesday and active cases dropping to just 30, restrictions will be eased on Sunday. The Andrews government has already signalled the border between metropolitan and regional Victoria will likely vanish and the 25 kilometre limit on movement for Melburnians will be no more.

But while those measures will bring the state into line with other states managing a similar number of active cases, there are key differences when it comes to things like density in indoor spaces such as gyms, restaurants and our homes. We’ve put together a snapshot of what the coronavirus restrictions are around the country, based on the active case count for Tuesday November 3.

A really interesting piece from my colleague Heath McNeill over in the west of the country who has dug into what her state border reopening will mean for Western Australia.

When the WA “hard” border lifts on November 14, people from states with no community transmission of coronavirus in the past 28 days will be able to enter WA without quarantining.

People from NSW and Victoria will be required to self-quarantine for 14 days, as long as the rolling average for community cases in those jurisdictions remains under five cases per day.

Some interesting takeaways from the piece:

  • Tourism Council of WA chief executive Evan Hall said he expected the reopening would first attract the visiting friends and family market, followed by a wave of leisure travellers about four to six weeks later.
  • Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA chief economist Aaron Morey said the reopening had been announced just in time, with a massive skills shortage looming in WA’s mining sector and downstream industries such as fabrication and manufacturing – those jobs are expected to be filled mostly by Queenslanders.

Read the full story here.

We finally have a date for the reopening of the Victoria-New South Wales border: November 23.

That’s just 19 days away and I know it’s going to mean a hell of a lot for a lot of people. The border closed back on July 8 (almost four months ago).

We asked readers a few weeks ago what the border re-opening would mean for them, but at that point we didn’t have a concrete date.

I’d love to hear from you again today on the back of the news – have you got plans to visit family or friends? Will you be heading north to NSW, or down the Hume to Melbourne? What are you most looking forward to? Leave your responses in the response box above.

I’ll share responses throughout the rest of the afternoon. If you’re happy to chat to a reporter down the track for reunion stories, please leave an email or phone number we can reach you on.

G’day readers, Rachael Dexter here to take over from the indefatigable Craig Butt to run the blog for the rest of the day. It’s obviously a huge day of news with the US election, but despite that we have a lot of readers here still on the COVID-19 blog this afternoon so it’s a pleasure to be with you.

I know there’s plenty of you out there reading today so feel free to drop any news tips or comments on email or via Twitter.

What coronavirus news has happened so far today?

  • Premier Gladys Berejiklian has given the green light to free movement between NSW and Victoria in less than three weeks. On that date, she said NSW will be the only place in Australia to welcome citizens from all jurisdictions, as well as New Zealand
  • Victoria has recorded no new coronavirus cases for the fifth day in a row. The number of active cases in the state has dropped to a record low of 30.
  • Despite the string of days with no new coronavirus cases, Premier Daniel Andrews has said it was not a reason to remove outdoor masks requirements yet. It comes after many people went maskless at Melbourne’s beaches yesterday during hot weather.
  • NSW recorded nine new cases on Wednesday. Six are in hotel quarantine and three are locally acquired. The local cases are linked to the Hoxton Park cluster, which totals 10.

  • Queensland’s coronavirus total has crept up again with two new cases recorded on Wednesday, both people in hotel quarantine. The new cases bring the total active cases in the state to eight.

  • Despite New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian announcing today that her state will reopen its borders to Victoria later this month, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk remains unmoved on her border status.

And briefly overseas …

  • On the day of the US election, only two out of 10 Americans cited COVID-19 as the issue that mattered most to them when deciding on who they voted for, according to an Edison Research exit poll. The poll found the economy was the issue of most concern to voters, with one in three ranking it the biggest factor in how they voted.

  • Coronavirus cases hit new daily highs this week in Russia, as European countries battle rapidly increasing COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations.
    New measures took effect Tuesday in Austria, Greece and Sweden, following a partial shutdown imposed in Germany Monday and tighter rules in Italy, France, Kosovo and Croatia. England faces a near-total lockdown from Thursday, although schools and universities will stay open.

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