The Informer: Reinfection is a rare phenomenon, maybe

As if being hit by COVID's first wave wasn't enough ...
As if being hit by COVID's first wave wasn't enough ...

As if coping with COVID-19 once isn't enough, a man in Victoria is now being treated as if he has been reinfected.

This is understood to be the first possible case of reinfection in Australia.

This is a significant milestone as it is - depending on which source you read - a reasonably rare event. But as has been the case during much of the ongoing pandemic, accurate records and statistics are a minefield.

An international news agency in the Netherlands created a "reinfection tracker" and currently lists 24 cases worldwide. But according to the very same tracker, the US state of Washington is presently investigating about 120 suspected cases of reinfection and Mexico 258 suspected cases. But with no confirmation those figures have not been included in the stats.

The necessary testing (genomic sequencing) has not yet been completed on the Victorian man, but premier Daniel Andrews said the man first tested positive to the virus in July, then again in October.

Second infections have scientists asking questions about long-term immunity to COVID-19 and, importantly, the prospects for an effective vaccine.

If you're keen to learn more about reinfection, this explainer from Nature (a weekly international journal publishing the peer-reviewed research in all fields of science and technology) might be helpful.

Either way, the whole reinfection issue another curve ball in a year which has rained curve balls. We wish the "Victorian man" only the very best.

And while Victoria awaits Sunday for more good news involving restrictions easing, NSW had their fill today with new plans in place for gyms and churches from Friday.

The decision on whether to reopen the Queensland-NSW border is not a "yes or no" question, Deputy Queensland Premier Steven Miles said today. The issue, he insisted, will be discussed over the next week.

Queensland has had 41 consecutive days with no community transmission cases reported. The state now has five active cases.

And there are low-level concerns for a ship anchored off Mooloolaba on the Sunshine Coast. A pathologist is expected to start testing the 19 crew members aboard the vessel after New Zealand alerted Australian officials when an engineer who worked on the Sofrana tested positive.

Rumours the ship could be harbouring a mutated version of the disease were dismissed by Dr Miles.

And while we're on the yes-no theme, there was the quite incredible Cox Plate kerfuffle in Victoria yesterday.

Staggeringly, Racing Minister Martin Pakula announced up to 500 racing connections would be able to attend Moonee Valley for Friday night's Manikato Stakes and Saturday's Cox Plate. Five hours, and much angst, later, that decision was reversed. Premier Andrews and Mr Pakula apologised.

Further afield, London's Heathrow airport now has rapid COVID tests available for passengers on outbound flights with results back in an hour. Besides another layer of security for passengers it is part of the UK's effort to re-open restricted routes, create travel corridors and get airlines in the air.

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