HAMNET Report 9th August 2020

The premier of the Australian state of Victoria plunged the region into a “state of disaster” last Sunday, announcing even stricter lockdown measures, introducing a nightly curfew and banning virtually all trips outdoors after Australia’s second largest state recorded 671 new Covid-19 infections in a single day.

Premier Daniel Andrews told Victorians at a news conference that “we have to do more, and we have to do more right now,” as the state battles to contain a devastating coronavirus outbreak that had already stripped residents of their freedoms, livelihoods and social interactions, and made it an outlier from the rest of the country.

“Where you slept last night is where you’ll need to stay for the next six weeks,” Andrews said, announcing a curfew between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. beginning Sunday evening and moving Metropolitan Melbourne into stage four lockdown measures.

In that part of the state, only one person per household will be allowed to leave their homes once a day — outside of curfew hours — to pick up essential goods, and they must stay within a 5 kilometre radius of their home. Melburnians had already been under strict measures for most of July after the area was identified as the epicentre of Australia’s second wave.

The draconian new rules were spurred by more bleak Covid-19 figures. Seven new deaths were announced on Saturday, bringing the state’s total to 123, and there have been 11,557 confirmed infections.

In addition, Andrews said the state has 760 “mystery cases,” where “we cannot trace back the source of that person’s infection.”

“Those mysteries and that community transmission are in many respects our biggest challenges and the reason why we need to move to a different set of rules,” Andrews said. “The whole way through this, I promised to be upfront. So I’ll say this now. This will be imperfect. And for a little while, there’ll be more questions than answers,” he added, after the swath of new measures.

We thank CNN for this news of a possible second wave starting in Australia.

Meanwhile, The Japan Times reports that cardboard partitions are becoming more common as shields to prevent infection with the novel coronavirus via droplets among people staying at disaster shelters following the recent heavy rains that hit some regions of Japan.

An increasing number of companies are developing such products, which can be assembled easily, reshaped freely and can even be recycled.

Kato Danboru Co. developed a cardboard partition product for use at shelters jointly with the city government of Noda, Chiba Prefecture, after the Tokyo-based company introduced to the municipality a desk partition to help prevent coronavirus infection.

The company plans to deliver to the city 2,100 sets of the product. The jointly developed partition is 2 meters in length and width and 1.45 meters in height when assembled. It is designed for use by three people at a time.

Pictures with the article show a raised pedestal surrounded by a cardboard wall creating a semi-private, and more isolated space for a group of 2 to 3 people to protect them from direct contamination from other refugees. The shelter has a high roof or ceiling, of course, so ventilation, and dilution of any possible coronavirus, is more effectively achieved.

In that the cardboard can be reused or recycled, this is a clever and fairly inexpensive solution to the problem of social separation, when large numbers of people are gathered in a temporary shelter after a natural disaster.

With the National Hurricane Centre (NHC) expecting Tropical Storm Isaias to become a hurricane again on Monday the 3rd, and make landfall that evening, the Hurricane Watch Net (HWN) reactivated at 1600 UTC on 14.325 MHz. HWN Manager Bobby Graves, KB5HAV, said the net would shift operations at 2300 UTC to 7.268 MHz, where it would remain until no longer needed by the NHC

“The centre of Isaias was expected to approach the coast of north-eastern South Carolina and southern North Carolina within the hurricane warning area later that day,” the NHC said. The centre was predicted to move inland over eastern North Carolina that night, and move along the coast of the mid-Atlantic States on Tuesday and into the north-eastern United States by Tuesday night.”

The HWN initially activated on July 31 at 1500 UTC, when Isaias was about 245 miles southeast of Nassau. “During the next 41 hours, we relayed the latest advisories to those in the Bahamas, south Florida, as well as mariners and shortwave listeners, Graves said. “Because Isaias was forecast to regain strength to a Category 1 hurricane, and hurricane watches and warnings remained in effect for the Florida coast as well as areas in the Bahamas, the Net remained activated.” After the NHC dropped all hurricane watches and warnings on Sunday morning, and the storm was no longer believed to become a hurricane, the HWN secured operations on Sunday, August 1.

“During the course of 41 hours, we never received any reports from the Bahamas,” Graves said. “We did hear from many south Florida stations, but the storm was not yet close enough at the time for [that area] to be adversely affected.

Although Isaias hadn’t turned into a monster hurricane, radio amateurs from all over South Carolina had been preparing for days as the South Carolina Emergency Operations Centre geared up for the storm. Isaias was predicted to make landfall on the border of North Carolina and South Carolina.

Thank you to the ARRL News for permitting this summary of their news.

Finally, another confirmation of the importance of the loss of the sense of smell as being the most important diagnostic feature of Covid-19 comes from Oxford University, where Professor Tim Spektor and his group are running the vaccine trial in which South Africa is participating.

The Oxford group has pioneered a cell-phone app in that country, by means of which you submit the state of your health, daily and anonymously, as well as results of Covid-19 tests you may have had done. From 2.8 million contributors amongst the general public, the app is helping to build an appreciation of which symptoms are most likely to be associated with positive cases. This example of artificial intelligence is telling them that clinicians should regard loss of the sense of smell, or Anosmia, as a more diagnostic sign of Covid-19, than a chronic cough, or a fever.

There is no reason why this sort of artificial intelligence could not be harnessed to develop diagnostic protocols for other diseases, which are commonly missed, because data in great enough quantity is never gathered to allow easy diagnosis.

This is Dave Reece ZS1DFR reporting for HAMNET in South Africa.