COVID reinfection not all bad news

Preliminary research suggests it’s possible to get COVID-19 a second time. But there might be a positive in that otherwise alarming news.

A 33-year-old Hong Kong man is the first proven example of reinfection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, say University of Hong Kong researchers.

The man tested positive for COVID-19 in March and made a full recovery, but again tested positive for COVID-19 while travelling home from Europe in mid-August. This time, he did not have any symptoms. The second infection was a different strain of coronavirus.

Akiko Iwasaki, a professor of immunobiology at the Yale School of Medicine, told there was no need to panic over the reinfection.

“Even though he got reinfected … this is a good example of how immunity should work in a person.”

He believes the man’s first infection “likely protected him enough that he did not develop symptoms during his second infection”.

The study’s researchers are concerned that the case proves the disease may continue to spread despite herd immunity.

“Our findings suggest that SARS-CoV-2 may persist in the global human population as is the case for other common-cold associated human coronaviruses,” the researchers said in a statement.

“The finding does not mean taking vaccines will be useless,” said Kai-Wang To, one of the leading authors of the paper.

“Immunity induced by vaccination can be different from that induced by natural infection.

“(We) will need to wait for the results of the vaccine trials to see how effective vaccines are.”

People have tested positive to COVID-19 after being treated in mainland China, the ABC reports.

“However, in those cases it was not clear whether they had contracted the virus again after full recovery – as happened to the Hong Kong patient – or still had the virus in their body from the initial infection.”

In other developments, Bali has closed its border to foreigners until the end of 2020 due to the pandemic. The tourist-reliant Indonesian island has reopened to domestic tourism but is hard-hit by the absence of international travellers. More than 1.3 million Australians visited Bali in 2019, the highest visitation of any nation. The Balinese economy contracted by 10 per cent in the last quarter.

Australia’s borders are also unlikely to open this year. In its most affected state, Victoria, 148 new cases of coronavirus and a further eight deaths were reported overnight. Premier Daniel Andrews is finding widespread resistance to his push for Parliament to give his government the power to extend the state of emergency powers for a further 12 months. The Opposition and a raft of crossbenchers are vowing to oppose the bill in its current form.

“This is a one-in-100-year event, and it is not surprising that laws drafted some time ago didn’t necessarily see (the need for state of emergency) as going for longer than six months,” said Mr Andrews. He says it will be extended four weeks at a time and not for any longer than is necessary.

Yesterday’s total of 116 new cases was Victoria’s lowest in more than seven weeks. It followed 209 new cases on Sunday and 182 on Saturday.

The NSW government is easing restrictions on its border with Victoria. Currently, border residents with permits to enter NSW must stay within a 2.5km zone. That will be extended to 50km, with a 100km exemption for agricultural workers.

NSW recorded three new coronavirus infections on Tuesday. One is in hotel quarantine and the other two are linked to known cases.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian says her state will experience a “yo-yo effect” in infection numbers in coming weeks

“Of course, we are certainly in a much better position today than we were some weeks ago and we want that situation to continue.”

South Australia will also relax some Victorian border measures, reports The New Daily.

“A 40km buffer zone will be reinstated by midnight on Friday morning, allowing students to cross the border to go to school and primary producers to work on their cross-border properties.

Home gathering limits in South Australia will increase once again to 50 from Friday.

“The border backflips come after sustained pressure from border communities,” the report stated.

Premier Steven Marshall is also considering reopening the border with NSW and the ACT “within the next two weeks”.

“If we continue to see very low levels of transmission, it’s quite possible we will remove that requirement for 14 days self-isolation,” he said.

Queensland recorded no new coronavirus cases overnight after conducting 8000 tests yesterday. Links between a detention centre outbreak and Victorian residents who reached Queensland are being investigated.

“That strain, the B1125 strain, is the most common strain currently circulating in Victoria, therefore there could be other sources of that strain here,” said health minister Steven Miles.

He said Queensland still had a “long way to go before we know we have controlled this possible outbreak”.

There are 10 cases linked to the Wacol Detention Centre five workers from the centre and five relatives and immediate contacts of workers.

Nine is reporting that a Perth woman who hid in a Victorian truck to sneak into Western Australia without quarantining has been jailed for six months. It’s the most severe penalty handed down for the charge since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

“Asher Van Der Sanden, 28, was sentenced in Perth Magistrates Court on Tuesday for her ‘deceitful and dishonest’ conduct after hiding in a car within a truck to pass through the border at Eucla on August 3 or 4.

“She was found at her partner’s Scarborough home on August 11, after failing to arrive at Perth Airport on a flight from Melbourne, as expected.”

Are you encouraged by the news of the reinfection that was not associated with symptoms?

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