Notifiable infectious disease rates halve during pandemic

3 minute read

From influenza to meningococcal to chlamydia, nearly all notifiable communicable diseases were down compared to the same period last year.

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5 November

  • The rate of notifiable infectious diseases in Australia dropped 50% in the first six months of this year compared to the same period last year, according to a study published in Communicable Diseases Intelligence.
    Laboratory-confirmed influenza notifications have been at ‘exceptionally’ low levels in May and June despite a 2.5-fold higher number of tests being performed: only 1% of the 197,222 tests conducted during this time this year were positive, compared to 21% of the 74,862 tests conducted during May/June 2019.
    The rate of invasive meningococcal disease was 45% lower than in the previous year, chlamydia notifications were down by 31%, rotavirus was down 18%, and there hasn’t been a single case of measles reported since February, compared to 25 cases reported in the first half of 2019.
    The only increases in notifications were seen for Barmah Forest virus infection, Ross River virus infection and legionellosis.
    The authors suggested that social distancing and international travel restrictions were likely to have contributed to the much lower rates of infectious disease, but other factors such as changes in testing priorities, health-seeking behaviours and use of telehealth may also have had an effect.
  • Retail chain Target has fallen foul of the Therapeutic Goods Administration by importing surgical face masks that weren’t registered on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods.
    Any mask whose purpose is to prevent the transmission of disease is considered a medical device and so has to be included on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods, the TGA said in a statement. The only exemption is for PPE that is being imported for inclusion in the national medical stockpile – which these masks weren’t.
    The company has been hit with a $13,320 fine for the breach.
  • Another doughnut day for Victoria, with zero new infections reported. However NSW reported nine new cases yesterday: six are returned travellers in hotel quarantine, and three are linked to the Hoxton Park cluster in south-west Sydney. The two new cases in Queensland are both returned travellers in hotel quarantine.
    To put this in perspective, 3.3 million new cases have been reported around the world in the past week alone, and the United States reported more than 100,000 new cases just yesterday. At least 1.2 million people around the world have died from COVID-19 in this pandemic.
    Here are the latest confirmed COVID-19 infection numbers from around Australia to 9pm Wednesday:
    National – 27,622, with 907 deaths
    ACT – 114 (0)
    NSW – 4443 (9)
    NT – 38 (0)
    QLD – 1177 (2)
    SA – 504 (1)
    TAS – 230 (0)
    VIC – 20,345 (0)
    WA – 771 (1)

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