csiroGeelong scientists have found the virus responsible for COVID-19 can survive for almost a month on hard surfaces such as banknotes and mobile phone screens.

Researchers at the CSIRO Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness (ACDP) in Portarlington Road, Newcomb have also found the virus survives longer in colder temperatures.

CSIRO Chief Executive Dr Larry Marshall said the work was expected to play a key role in helping slow the spread of the virus.

“Establishing how long the virus really remains viable on surfaces enables us to more accurately predict and mitigate its spread, and do a better job of protecting our people,” Dr Marshall said.

ACDP Deputy Director Dr Debbie Eagles said the virus was “extremely robust” at room temperature and could survive for 28 days on smooth surfaces.

“Similar experiments for Influenza A have found that it survived on surfaces for 17 days, which highlights just how resilient SARS-CoV-2 is,” Dr Eagles said.

Further experiments were carried out at 30 and 40 degrees Celsius, with survival times decreasing as the temperature increased.

Dr Eagles said the research reinforced the need for good hygiene practices, such as frequent handwashing and surface cleaning.

The study was conducted in darkness because earlier research has found direct sunlight can rapidly deactivate the virus.

Picture: supplied

Daily numbers: Melbourne unlikely to hit rolling-average target

Melbourne’s hopes of a major easing of lockdown restrictions this weekend have all but evaporated after the latest coronavirus numbers showed a slight rise in the 14-day rolling average.

Victoria has recorded 15 new cases in the last 24 hours and while there have been no deaths, the 14-day average increased to 9.9.

Health authorities have repeatedly said restrictions cannot be eased while that number remains above five.

The figure in regional Victoria remains steady on 0.4.

Face shields, bandannas no longer cut it

New rules designed to further reduce the spread of coronavirus have come into force across Victoria overnight.

They include tighter restrictions on face coverings, and mandatory coronavirus tests for close contacts of people confirmed to have contracted the illness.

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As of today Victorians must wear a fitted mask whenever they are outdoors.

Plastic face shields, scarves and bandannas, which until now have been allowed because they are more comfortable than masks, can no longer be used as sole protection.

Snoods, buffs and gaiters are permitted provided they fit snugly over and cover the mouth and nose, are secure around the neck and lower face and have no gaps along the nose ridge of the top of the garment..

Also starting today, close contacts of people who have the virus must take a test on the 11th day or remain in isolation for a further ten days.

Diet, exercise could help COVID-related depression

A Geelong-based trial is examining whether food and physical activity can assist in the treatment of depression linked to the coronavirus pandemic.

Researchers from Deakin University and Barwon Health’s Mental Health, Drug and Alcohol Services (MHDAS) division will deliver an eight-week, group-based telehealth program designed to reduce mental health symptoms in adults with elevated psychological distress.

Research lead, Associate Professor Adrienne O’Neil, said there was a good deal of evidence supporting diet and exercise as a treatment for mental health conditions.

“Lifestyle targets are the cornerstone for prevention and management of diabetes and heart disease, but not currently for mental disorders,” Associate Professor O’Neil said.

“There is good evidence diet and exercise can complement standard care, but we don’t know if they are as good as standard psychological care.”

Associate Professor O’Neil said the study was the first to test this approach directly with psychotherapy in a real-world mental health setting.

“We know the mental health of Australians has deteriorated since the COVID-19 outbreak, especially for young people and women who have been overly represented in job losses and overburdened with child care,” she said.

“In Australia, we spend $9.9 billion on mental health services every year. In Geelong, we have seen mental health-related presentations spike over the past three years.”

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Schools return to a strange kind of normal

School students across Metropolitan Melbourne will begin returning to the classroom today, a week after their cousins in regional Victoria and more than three months after moving to home learning for term three.

600,000 primary and VCE students will resume on-site learning today, with years eight to ten to to return in a fortnight.

Some schools have asked students to return later this week.

Teachers have been instructed to keep an eye out for students who may be struggling.

Pupils will be required to sanitise their hands when they enter school grounds and at regular intervals across the day.

Children 12 years and above are required to wear masks.

160,000 new unemployed by Christmas, says Labor

Changes to the JobKeeper scheme will leave 160,000 people out of work by the end of the year, according to the federal opposition.

The wage support scheme that’s credited with keeping businesses afloat and the unemployment rate down has been drastically cut back, and is set to be axed at the end of March.

Labor leader Anthony Albanese said the recession-hit economy was too fragile to end the scheme that soon.

“We have 160,000 more unemployed people between now and Christmas,” he said.

“Many of those will be because of JobKeeper being cut.”

Trump claims coronavirus immunity

Donald Trump has again been flagged by Twitter after posting that he is now immune from coronavirus.

The US president told his followers he can no longer get the virus and cannot pass it on to others.

The tweet was immediately tagged by Twitter ad “misleading and potentially harmful”.

“A total and complete sign off from White House Doctors yesterday. That means I can’t get it (immune), and can’t give it. Very nice to know!!!” Trump said in the tweet on Sunday.

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Trump also told Fox News his doctors have found he no longer has COVID-19 and will not be a risk to others as he returns to holding big rallies during the election campaign.

White House staff said Trump was no longer infectious but side-stepped questions about whether he still has the virus.

215,000 people have died from coronavirus in the US, by far the highest death rate in the world.

India passes 7 million cases

India has become only the second country to pass seven million confirmed cases of COVID-19.

With just under 7,054,000 cases, India still trails the US by 700,000 infections but the gap is rapidly closing.

It took eight months for India to reach six million infections, but only two weeks for that number to rise to seven million.

The US leads the world with 7.75 million confirmed cases and 215,000 deaths.

Brazil has the second-highest number of fatalities with 151,000, followed by India where more than 108,000 people have passed away.

There have now been almost 37.5 million infections worldwide and 1.07 million deaths.

Eight French cities on maximum alert

Eight French cities are now on maximum coronavirus alert, including some of the country’s most famous tourist destinations.

Paris, Montpellier and Marseille have introduced strict new measures aimed at stopping the spread of the deadly illness.

Toulouse, Lyon, Grenoble, Saint-Etienne and Lille are also on the highest alert level.

UK infections reach 15,000 a day

British prime minister BORIS JOHNSON is preparing to announce new restrictions as the number of coronavirus cases continues to surge.

But Mr Johnson said he wanted to avoid another national lockdown and would instead introduce targeted, localised bans in hard-hit areas.

15,000 new cases have been reported in the past 24 hours.





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