Coronavirus live news: India passes 3.2m cases; WHO says global spread may be easing | World news


This is a fascinating piece from Associated Press. With winter ending in the southern hemisphere – ergo soon to begin in the north – it has emerged that measures to counter Covid-19 have dramatically slowed the spread of influenza. But that success is not guaranteed for countries about to enter their colder months.

(PS I can confirm winter is ending in the southern hemisphere. Gloriously sunny out my window in Sydney, but here am I, inside still …)

Winter is ending in the southern hemisphere and country after country – South Africa, Australia, Argentina – have had a surprise: their steps against Covid-19 also apparently blocked the flu.

But there’s no guarantee the northern hemisphere will avoid twin epidemics as its own flu season looms while the coronavirus still rages.

“This could be one of the worst seasons we’ve had from a public health perspective with Covid and flu coming together. But it also could be one of the best flu seasons we’ve had,” Dr Robert Redfield, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said.

US health officials are pushing Americans to get vaccinated against the flu in record numbers this autumn, so hospitals aren’t overwhelmed with a “duelling twindemic”.

“It’s also becoming clear that wearing masks, avoiding crowds and keeping your distance are protections that are not specific for Covid. They’re going to work for any respiratory virus,” Redfield said.


A nurse from the Cerro El Agustino medical post gives a resident flu and pneumonia vaccines, in Lima, Peru. Photograph: Paolo Aguilar/EPA

The evidence: ordinarily, South Africa sees widespread influenza during the southern hemisphere’s winter months of May through August. This year, testing tracked by the country’s National Institute of Communicable Diseases is finding almost none: something unprecedented.

School closures, limited public gatherings and calls to wear masks and wash hands have knocked down the flu, said Dr Cheryl Cohen, head of the institute’s respiratory programme.

“That not only meant lives saved from flu’s annual toll, but it freed up our hospitals capacity to treat Covid-19 patients,” Cohen added.

In Australia, the national health department reported just 36 laboratory-confirmed flu-associated deaths from January to mid-August, compared to more than 480 during the same period last year.

The most likely and the biggest contributor is social distancing, said Dr Robert Booy, an infectious diseases expert at the University of Sydney.

The coronavirus is blamed for about 24m infections and more than 810,000 deaths globally in the first eight months of this year.

A normal flu year could have the world’s hospitals dealing with several million more severe illnesses on top of the Covid-19 crush.

Back in February and March, as the worldwide spread of the new virus was just being recognized, many countries throughout the southern hemisphere girded for a double whammy. Even as they locked down to fight the coronavirus, they made a huge push for more last-minute flu vaccinations.

“We gave many more flu vaccinations, like four times more,” said Jaco Havenga, a pharmacist who works at Mays Chemist, a pharmacy in a Johannesburg suburb.

Some countries’ lockdowns were more effective than others at stemming spread of the coronavirus.

So why would flu have dropped even if Covid-19 still was on the rise?

“Clearly the vigilance required to be successful against Covid is really high,” said CDC’s Redfield.

“This virus is one of the most infectious viruses that we’ve seen. That’s in part because 40% of people with Covid-19 show no symptoms yet can spread infection,” he said.

Schoolchildren in Johannesburg have their hands sanitised.

Schoolchildren in Johannesburg have their hands sanitised. Photograph: Denis farrell/AP

Flu hasn’t disappeared, a World Health Organization report cautioned earlier this month. While globally, influenza activity was reported at lower levels than expected for this time of year, it found sporadic cases are being reported.

Plus, some people who had the flu in southern countries might just have hunkered down at home and not seen a doctor as the coronavirus was widespread, WHO added.

But international influenza experts say keeping schools closed children typically drive flu’s spread and strict mask and distancing rules clearly helped.

“We don’t have definitive proof, but the logical explanation is what they’re doing to try to control the spread of (the coronavirus) is actually doing a really, really good job against the flu as well,” said Richard Webby of St Jude Children’s Research hospital, who is part of a WHO committee that tracks flu evolution.

In contrast, the US and Europe didn’t impose coronavirus rules nearly as restrictive as some of their southern neighbours and in many cases are reopening schools and relaxing distancing rules even as Covid-19 still is being transmitted and the cooler months that favour influenza’s spread are fast approaching.

So the US CDC is urging record flu vaccinations, preferably by October. Redfield’s goal is for at least 65% of adults to be vaccinated, usually only about half are.

The US expects more than 190m doses of flu vaccine, about 20m more than last year. States are being encouraged to try drive-thru flu shots and other creative ideas to get people vaccinated while avoiding crowds.

In an unusual move, Massachusetts has mandated flu vaccination for all students from elementary to college this year. Typically only some health care workers face employment mandates for flu vaccine.

In the UK, the prime minister, Boris Johnson, is likewise urging widespread flu vaccination.

The flu vaccine only protects against influenza: it will not lessen the chances of contracting the coronavirus. Vaccines against Covid-19 are still being trialled.

But for coronavirus protection, Redfield urges vigilance about wearing masks, keeping your distance, avoiding crowds and washing your hands.

Countries where flu season is ending are watching to see if the northern hemisphere heeds their lessons learned.

“It could be very scary we honestly don’t know,” Booy, the Sydney infectious diseases expert, said. “But if you’re going to get the two infections at the same time, you could be in big trouble.”



Source link

Celebrity chef Pete Evans lists Malabar home with $3.2m guide


MKR 10th Anniversary Party

Pete Evans (left) is selling his Malabar home. Picture: Christian Gilles


Celebrity chef Pete Evans and his wife Nicola Robinson have put their luxury southeastern Sydney home up for sale.

The pair built the five-bedroom Malabar property just 18 months ago with a number of opulent features, including a skateboard half-pipe, a lap pool, four-person spa and even a gym.

As expected, the kitchen is at the heart of the home while there is also an edible garden with herbs.

RELATED: Pete Evans sells Malabar property for $2.76m in off-market sale


A relaxing retreat for the whole family.


Pete Evans and Nicola Robinson. Source: Instagram


Peter Goulding and Theo Karangis of NG Farah real estate have a $3.2 million price guide ahead of a September 12 auction.

The controversial Evans is selling up ahead of a move to the NSW north coast, where he has a multimillion-dollar health retreat. He will soon be opening a healing clinic in Byron’s new commercial precinct, The Habitat.

Backyard fun for the whole family.


A huge bench in the kitchen.


More from news

Comanche skipper Jim Cooney and Samantha Grant buy ‘trophy beachfront’ at Hyams Beach
Surry Hills Village: ‘Why I bought a $6.4m penthouse off the plan during a pandemic’

MORE: Miller buys Kangaroo River retreat from INXS guitarist

Former NSW Premier sells northern beaches abode

Perfectly suited to active families, the home, on a 588sqm block, also has a wellness studio with infrared sauna and a tea room, while there are Tesla solar panels and a powerwall in the double garage.



The original property was purchased by Evans and Robinson in 2014 for $1.27 million before it was knocked down and rebuilt.

Earlier in the year the couple sold their other Malabar home in an off-market deal worth $2.76 million.



Source link