29.09.2022

Coronavirus may be with us until 2023, expert warns

Coronavirus is not disappearing and will still be here in three years, a leading German virologist has warned.

Professor Hendrik Streeck, the director of the Institute of Virology at the University of Bonn who led the response to Covid-19 in one of Germany’s worst-hit regions, said spikes are inevitable and the public must adapt to a new way of living to avoid widespread outbreaks.

“This virus is not disappearing. It has now become part of our daily lives,” he told Scottish tabloid the Sunday Mail.

“It will still be here in three years and we have to find a way to live with it.

“However, it is really important to stop superspreading events where many people gather together as those can cause large outbreaks.

“We know that social distancing, not gathering in big groups and covering your face can have a profound impact on the infection.

“These are simple measures that can help stop the spread if you have large levels of infection.”

Prof Streeck, who used the town of Gangelt in Heinsberg to study how Covid-19 spreads between households and how it can be contained, said the discovery of a vaccine was “probable”, but was cautious about being too optimistic on the timescale, adding that it may not be until at least next year.

He also said that while the idea of herd immunity can sound “terrible”, it is likely to be essential in combatting the virus.

“Herd immunity is a terrible way to describe it as it sounds like you’re forcing people together to get infected,” Prof Streeck explained.

“But it is also something that really helps to slow down infections.”

Prof Streeck’s research, which involved 919 participants from 405 households, found that most infections occur in large gatherings and in homes.

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Australia deploys army and introduces hefty fines in virus-hit state

Australia’s second-most populous state of Victoria has introduced fines as high as A$20,000 (£10,910) for anyone breaking coronavirus self-isolation orders and deployed more military personnel to help enforce such rules.

The country is desperately trying to slow the spread of infections in the state to prevent a national second wave of Covid-19.

Earlier this week, Victoria imposed a night curfew, tightened restrictions on people’s movements and ordered large parts of the local economy to close.

However, officials are concerned that nearly a third of those with Covid-19 have not been isolating at home.

Fines of nearly A$5,000 will be issued to anyone breaching stay at home orders, with repeat offenders facing a fine of up to A$20,000.

“There is literally no reason for you to leave your home and if you were to leave your home and not be found there, you will have a very difficult time convincing Victoria police that you have a lawful reason,” Daniel Andrews, Victoria state premier, told reporters in Melbourne.

Mr Andrews said the only exemption will be for urgent medical care, adding anyone under a self-isolation order will no longer be allowed to leave their homes for outdoor exercise.

An additional 500 unarmed military personnel will also be deployed this week to Victoria to assist police in enforcing the self-isolation orders, joining about 1,500 troops already working on assisting the health response in the state.

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