explainer

Are we headed towards more state lockdowns? Your latest COVID-19 questions, answered.

With Victoria now entering their second week of their second lockdown, fears are growing that other states will follow their lead. 

On Tuesday morning, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk declared parts of Sydney COVID-19 hotspots. From midday Tuesday, any person who lives in or has visited the Liverpool and Campbelltown government areas in the past 14 days will be prohibited from entering Queensland.

So, will NSW go back into lockdown? And what is the latest on a COVID-19 vaccine?

Mamamia's daily podcast The Quicky spoke with Dr Sanjaya Senanayake, an Infectious Diseases Specialist from ANU, about the current status of COVID-19. 

What are our chances of containing it in Victoria? And, will NSW go back into lockdown?

In the past few days, NSW has recorded an alarming rise in new cases, the majority of which have come from community transmission.

It comes as the total number of infections linked to the Crossroads Hotel cluster in Sydney's south west has reached 21, with fears growing we are seeing the early signs of a second wave in NSW.

Already, on Monday, the NSW government has signalled stricter operating rules for pubs, with the measures to be announced on Tuesday.

Dr Senanayake, however, says other states will "not necessarily" return to lockdown. 

"It is possible that some cases may have come from Victoria in to other states, and it might lead to a localised outbreak but it doesn't necessarily mean an uncontrollable outbreak is a foregone conclusion. Similarly, in Victoria - even though it's ended up being quite a big outbreak and they've had to take extreme measures - I would still hope that, it might take a few weeks, but they can get on top of this outbreak."

Watch: What you're like during isolation, according to your star sign. Post continues below. 


Video via Mamamia

What is the latest on a COVID-19 vaccine?

Scientists worldwide have been working around the clock to develop a vaccine for coronavirus - a process that would usually take about 10 years. 

There are about 100 potential COVID-19 vaccines currently being developed.

"The vaccine race is going well, relative to other vaccines," Dr Senanayake says. "The quickest vaccine we've ever developed has been the mumps vaccine which took four years. So we are looking at getting a COVID vaccine much more quickly, however as the WHO Director General said fairly recently, we're still looking at being a year away from that. 

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"So we've still got quite a way to go but there are a number of large trials going on in humans for different vaccine candidates and hopefully that will continue to progress well. But I don't see this being available to you and me, here in Australia, until well into next year."

Is COVID-19 airborne?

This past week, 239 scientists in 32 countries wrote to the World Health Organization saying they have sufficient evidence to suggest COVID-19 can be transmitted via air particles. This is in contrast to the initial information on the novel coronavirus, which said the virus spread from person-to-person interaction, via droplets from the nose or mouth. 

"It's really important to look into this," Dr Senanayake says. "What we know about any droplet infection is that in certain situations it can become airborne... It may turn out we are seeing some airborne spread of this infection but the majority of it will be droplets."

"You just have to be objective with this and have an open mind with this virus, because we're still learning so much about it six months in to the outbreak."

Listen to The Quicky, Mamamia's daily news podcast. Post continues below. 

This time round, is there any difference in the coronavirus?

With the number of new cases breaking records in Victoria, there are concerns the virus has mutated into a more dangerous version of itself. But Dr Senanayake says that doesn't appear to be the case. 

"The reality is this could all just be that it's the same virus behaving the same way, but in Victoria we have unfortunately seen some lapses and breaches in infection control protocols and social distancing and the way some family members have been unwell and supposedly mixed with others at family gatherings...

"So, it may be more a human behaviour issue than a change in the virus that has led to this outbreak in Victoria." 

Should we be stopping international flights?

A number of breaches in the Victorian hotel quarantine system have been discovered, leading to a temporary ban on international flights to Victoria whilst they deal with the recent outbreak.  

"Other cities like Sydney have hotel quarantine and we haven't heard of any major breaches or big outbreaks arising from those. So we don't necessarily need to stop international flights everywhere in Australia if we can be confident that we can maintain good control practices in those settings."


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