The expert advice is that super-spread events – where five people or more are infected – can be prevented, because 97 per cent of them happen indoors.
Many measures are simple and cheap: regular ‘airing out’ of rooms; resetting ventilation systems; checking wall vents are not blocked, and opening windows. Limiting activities such as shouting, singing and exercising indoors is also advised as is increasing humidity with humidifiers as the virus thrives on dry air.
SARS-CoV-2 is a respiratory virus that multiplies in the respiratory tract. So it is spread by the respiratory route — via breathing, speaking, singing, coughing or sneezing.
Two other coronaviruses — the ones that cause MERS (Middle Eastern respiratory sydrome) and SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) — are also spread this way. Both are accepted as being airborne.
In fact, experimental studies show SARS-CoV-2 is as airborne as these other coronaviruses, if not more so, and can be found in the air 16 hours after being aerosolised.
. . . . .
So why has airborne denialism persisted for so long?
The role of airborne transmission has been denied for so long partly because expert groups that advise government have not included engineers, aerosol scientists, occupational hygienists and multidisciplinary environmental health experts.
Partly it is because the role of airborne transmission for other respiratory viruses has been denied for decades, accompanied by a long history of denial of adequate respiratory protection for health workers. For example, during the SARS outbreak in Canada in 2003, denial of protection against airborne spread for health workers in Toronto resulted in a fatal outbreak.
What’s the difference between aerosols and droplets?
The distinction between aerosols and droplets is largely artificial and driven by infection control dogma, not science.
This dogma says large droplets (defined by WHO as larger than 5 micrometres across) settle to the ground and are emitted within 2 metres of an infected person. Meanwhile, fine particles under 5 micrometres across can become airborne and exist further away.
There is in fact no scientific basis for this belief. Most studies that looked at how far large droplets travelled found the horizontal distance is greater than 2 metres. And the size threshold that dictates whether droplets fall or float is actually 100 micrometres, not 5 micrometres. In other words, larger droplets travel further than what we’ve been led to believe.
. . . . .
Leading aerosol scientists explain the historical basis of these false beliefs, which go back nearly a century.
And in further evidence the droplet theory is false, we showed that even for infections believed to be spread by droplets, a N95 respirator protects better than a surgical mask. In fact airborne precautions are needed for most respiratory infections.
Why does this difference matter?
Accepting how SARS-CoV-2 spreads means we can better prevent transmission and protect people, using the right types of masks and better ventilation.
Breathing and speaking generate aerosols. So an infected person in a closed indoor space without good ventilation will generate an accumulation of aerosols over time, just like cigarette smoke accumulates.
Masks work, both by preventing sick people from emitting infected aerosols, and by preventing well people from getting infected. A study in Hong Kong found most transmission occurred when masks weren’t worn inside, such as at home and in restaurants.
The old dogma of droplet infection includes a belief that only “aerosol generating procedures” — such as inserting a tube into someone’s throat and windpipe to help them breathe — pose a risk of airborne transmission. But research shows a coughing patient generates more aerosols than one of these procedures.
At the Royal Melbourne Hospital, where many health worker infections occurred in 2020, understanding airflow in the COVID ward helped explain how health workers got infected.
Think about it. Airborne deniers tell us infection occurs after a ballistic strike by a single large droplet hitting the eye, nose or mouth. The statistical probability of this is much lower than simply breathing in accumulated, contaminated air.
The ballistic strike theory has driven an industry in plastic barriers and face shields, which offer no protection against airborne spread. In Switzerland, only hospitality workers using just a face shield got infected and those wearing masks were protected.
We need to select quarantine venues based on adequacy of ventilation, test ventilation and mitigate areas of poor ventilation. Opening a window, drawing in fresh air or using air purifiers dramatically reduce virus in the air.
“Mourners spoke of the journalist’s fearlessness as police union leaders tried to make sense of a shooting in broad daylight in central Amsterdam. A smaller funeral for family and friends will be held on Thursday. , , , “
Mourners paid their last respects to Peter de Vries at the Carre Theatre
Authorities working to determine the source of three COVID-19 cases confirmed in the Illawarra this week suspect they may be linked to cases in Sydney.
Three new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the Illawarra, but no venues have been listed as places of concern
Two cases have also been confirmed in the Wingecarribee Shire, and one in the Wollondilly, where community exposure is said to be “minimal”
The exact source of the Illawarra infections is unknown
Two of the cases from the Wollongong area were revealed on Monday, with the Illawarra-Shoalhaven Local Health District (ISLHD) confirming the third case this afternoon.
“This case is from the Wollongong local government area and is linked to the two cases announced yesterday,” the spokesperson said.
“All three cases are currently isolating at home.”
New South Wales recorded 78 new locally acquired cases in the 24 hours to 8:00pm on Monday, 27 of which were infectious in the community.
No venues of concern
The ISLHD said in a statement that investigations into the source of the three infections was underway, but no new venues of concern had been listed in the region.
“It is believed there are links to employment in the Sydney area,” the spokesperson said.
“When a confirmed COVID-19 case attends a venue while possibly infectious, NSW Health carries out a risk assessment on that venue to determine whether other people may have been exposed and whether there is a public health risk.
“NSW Health does not disclose details about venues unless there is a public health reason.”
Several businesses in the Illawarra have identified themselves as exposure sites and are working to allay concerns from customers and clients.
“We have been notified that a customer with a confirmed case of COVID-19 was present at our Dapto store on Thursday, July 15,” a Woolworths spokesperson said.
“As a food retailer, we already have very high standards of cleaning and hygiene in place, and the store had a detailed deep clean overnight on Monday 19 July.
“Customers and team members should be assured they can continue to safely shop and work at our Woolworths Dapto store.”
By Dan Oakes, ABC Investigations 5h ago, updated 19m ago
The federal government has been urged to secure supplies of COVID therapy drugs amid fears Australia could be left at the back of the queue as the world’s focus turns from vaccines to medicines to treat the disease.
Vaccination may be ineffective for immuno-compromised people, which is about 4 per cent of the population
Antibodies that are administered intravenously are already in use in the United States
Singapore has signed a pre-purchase agreement for one drug, while the European Commission has purchased doses of another
Pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline, which has struck an agreement with the Singaporean Government to supply one promising treatment, says it’s unclear if the Australian Government will buy its drug.
Currently there’s only one treatment used widely for COVID patients, a steroid called Dexamaethasone which treats inflammation of the lungs.
However, the drug is only effective on patients who are suffering severe symptoms and are receiving oxygen.
Experts say that as Australia moves towards a future where COVID is ever-present in the community, there is an urgent need for drugs to treat milder, yet more infectious, cases.
Australian Influenza Surveillance Report – 2021 Influenza Season in Australia
Australian Influenza Surveillance Report No 07 – fortnight ending 04 July 2021
It is important to note that due to the COVID-19 epidemic in Australia, data reported from the various influenza surveillance systems may not represent an accurate reflection of influenza activity. Results should be interpreted with caution, especially where comparisons are made to previous influenza seasons. Interpretation of influenza activity data from April 2020 onwards should take into account, but are not limited to, the impact of social distancing measures, likely changes in health seeking behaviour of the community including access to alternative streams of acute respiratory infection specific health services, and focussed testing for COVID-19 response activities. Current COVID-19 related public health measures and the community’s adherence to public health messages are also likely having an effect on transmission of acute respiratory infections, including influenza.
While influenza-like-illness (ILI) activity in the community remains at historically low levels, it has continued to gradually increase since January 2021.
Notifications of laboratory-confirmed influenza have remained low since April 2020. In the year to date in 2021, there have been 388 notifications to the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System (NNDSS) in Australia, of which 25 notifications had a diagnosis date this fortnight.
There is no indication of the potential severity of the 2021 season at this time.
In the year to date, of the 388 notifications of laboratory-confirmed influenza, no influenza-associated deaths have been notified to the NNDSS.
There have been no hospital admissions due to influenza reported across sentinel hospitals sites since commencement of surveillance in April 2021.
Given the low number of laboratory-confirmed influenza notifications, low community ILI activity, and no hospitalisations due to influenza at sentinel hospital sites, it is likely there is minimal impact on society due to influenza in 2021 to date.
At least 58 people have died in parts of western Germany amid heavy rains and flooding, local police said on Thursday. Most of the deaths have been reported in the states of North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate.
The flooding has heavily impacted transport in the region, which lies near the borders to Belgium, Luxembourg, France and the Netherlands. Weather forecasters say more rain is expected in the coming days.
By Annabel Brady-BrownPosted Wed 26 May 2021 at 4:37amWednesday 26 May 2021 at 4:37am, updated Wed 26 May 2021 at 3:42pmWednesday 26 May 2021 at 3:42pm
In early 2017, when the legendary actor David Gulpilil was diagnosed with stage-four lung cancer and advised that he had only months to live, he told filmmakers Molly Reynolds and Rolf de Heer that he wanted to make one more film.
He wasn’t well enough to appear as planned in Stephen Maxwell Johnson’s revisionary western, High Ground — he requested that his role be taken by Yothu Yindi’s Witiyana Marika, who is a close relative.
But the three decided “that the best way we could go forward was to do his life story, right until the end,” Reynolds says.
The result is My Name is Gulpilil, an intimate documentary about the actor squaring with the end of his life.
“This film is about me. This is my story of my story,” he says at the outset.
Moving between hospital visits and scenic excursions through the South Australian landscape, the film interweaves footage of Gulpilil speaking direct-to-camera with news archives and clips from his movies, reliving his astonishing half-century on screen.
“I like to show my face to remember,” he says.
Viewers are taken on a bittersweet journey — from his debut in the 1971 Australian New Wave classic Walkabout, through some of the country’s most popular and critically acclaimed films, including Storm Boy, Mad Dog Morgan, Crocodile Dundee and Rabbit Proof Fence.
Refreshingly, the movie clips are presented without title cards that name the directors, as the documentary instead homes in on Gulpilil’s magnetic performances.
‘I’m an actor, I’m a dancer, I’m a singer and also a painter.’
My Name is Gulpilil is likely the final entry in a fruitful, two-decade collaboration between Gulpilil and the white Australian filmmaker Rolf de Heer and his partner Reynolds, which started with the Yolngu actor’s phenomenal lead role — his first — in The Tracker in 2002.
Over the four films they’ve made since then — which are widely held up as examples of best-practice collaborative filmmaking — Gulpilil has increasingly asserted creative control over his story.
He initiated and narrated Ten Canoes (2006) — the first Australian feature entirely in Indigenous language — and co-wrote and starred in the semi-autobiographical drama Charlie’s Country (2013) and the follow-up essay-documentary Another Country (2015).
It’s fitting, then, that My Name is Gulpilil sees him occupy centre stage.
“It’s like, ‘Over to you, David,'” says Reynolds, who directed the film.
“It’s a fabulous progression, for all of us really.”
Reminiscing direct to camera, Gulpilil recounts his youth as a tribal man from the Arafura Swamp region in Central Arnhem Land, and how it was his talent as a ceremonial dancer that led the British director Nicolas Roeg to “discover” him as a teen and cast him in the biblical desert horror Walkabout.
The experience ignited Gulpilil’s love for cinema and his abiding diva-like delight in front of the camera.
As he said in his 2004 one-man stage show, “Acting came natural to me. Piece of piss. I know how to walk across the land in front of a camera, because I belong there.”
Walkabout toured the world, which took the Yolngu teenager out of his ancestral home and catapulted him into the European film world — and Hollywood-level excess.
He amusingly relates some of his adventures: dining with the Queen, carousing with Dennis Hopper, partying with Muhammad Ali and getting high for the first time with Bob Marley. It was the start of a lifelong balancing act for Gulpilil — straddling two worlds, Yolngu and Balanda — and the documentary emphasises the great personal toll this took.
He’s sober these days, but he speaks openly about his well-publicised substance abuse and his time living in the long grass in Darwin.
“Drinking all this grog, smoking all this tobacco, smoking all this ganja. I ended up good in prison every day in Darwin,” he says.
“I forgot about her,” he says. “Because I was a drunken, drunken man.
“I’m a drug and alcoholic.”
‘No one else can do the life of me, it’s only me. I can do the life about me.’
Unlike other biographic treatments, such as Darlene Johnson’s 2002 documentary Gulpilil: One Red Blood, or Derek Rielly’s 2020 book Gulpilil, there are no other interviewees or talking heads.
“People, usually whitefellas, sort of speak for or about David,’ says Reynolds, explaining the reasoning behind the “clear choices” that she and David made about how to present the documentary.
“David is the consummate performer, the consummate artist, actor. I thought, ‘What happens if he just spoke for himself?’
“I knew David’s capacity to deliver. I thought, ‘He can hold the screen,'” she says.
“David really embraced that, because there were no intermediaries at all. He could just look straight down the lens, and speak it as he saw it.
“Having said that, he’s also an actor and he likes having a director to support his work.”
Needing to stay close to doctors and hospitals, and too sick to travel to Arnhem Land, Gulpilil is observed living in a modest house — kitted out with posters of his films — in Murray Bridge, east of Adelaide, with his indefatigable carer Mary Hood.
Before each shooting session, Reynolds and Gulpilil would discuss what he wanted to talk about that day.
“I quickly learned to be a different director to what I’d normally be,” she says, describing her role as “sort of the brains trust who holds the information”.
“I was there to support his performance, even though his performance was really him.”
The interviews would run for hours.
“Then he’d just conclude somehow so poetically, and ‘boom’, we’ve got it.”
Tying the film together into effectively one long interview, the unhurried monologues allow the viewer to really listen, and to sink into the rhythm of Gulpilil’s storytelling.
‘I like to make a film, it’s a history. I like it because it won’t rub out.’
Gulpilil’s role extended far beyond being the star interviewee.
“One day he called me up,” recounts Reynolds. “‘Molly, Molly,’ he said. ‘What I’d like to do is, I want you to wrap me in our film, in my cemetery box.'”
She had to break the news to him: “David, we’re shooting digital, not 35mm … but I got the image he was evoking, and that was really poetic, so we did end up shooting it,” she says.
The shot shows Gulpilil lying inside a coffin with his eyes closed, resting on a bed of unfurled analogue film – one of several dreamy images that appear in the documentary to suggest he is confronting his own mortality, and which often foreground his connection with the land.
“He’s got a true sense of cinema,” says Reynolds.
The new film sees Gulpilil credited for the first time in his career as a producer — alongside de Heer and his Ten Canoes co-director Peter Djigirr.
Reynolds describes Djigirr as “critical to everything we do with the Yolngu mob up there… He’s been involved in every single film we’ve made in Ramingining.”
Acting as a kind of “pivot point” between the filmmakers and the community, Djigirr also ensured that everything was done in accord with cultural protocols and traditions.
There was another crucial, if sombre, reason for his involvement, says Reynolds: “There was the expectation that David would be dead by the time we finished. So we wanted someone who … would be able to look at the film and determine how David would feel about it.”
That Gulpilil is still alive to see the finished film, walking the red carpet at the Adelaide Festival for the premiere in March, is a surprise twist ending.
“It felt so right that it worked out this way,” says Reynolds.
“One thing that pleases me about the film, for David, is that I think it has cemented his legacy,” she says.
“It’s the culmination of all that he has done.”
‘This film will remember to generation to generation.’
In 2002, academic and cultural commentator Marcia Langton said: “David has been absolutely critical to both representing Aboriginal people in modern Australia in the cinema … and also, in his own ironic and charismatic way, undermining the stereotypes that were forced on him. He’s a tremendously important person to us culturally.”
Reflecting on this important role, Reynolds says, “I don’t think Australia yet appreciates [David’s contribution] enough.”
“And I really, really do hope that, on behalf of all of us, whitefellas and blackfellas alike, that we do get to that point.