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What’s this, good news on virus? Hope glimmers at end of tunnel

May 1, 2020 Headline News No Comments Email Email

It’s no secret the travel industry has been hammered more than most by the Covid-19 pandemic – but some encouraging signs have suddenly appeared, and here are seven of them:

1. The Northern Territory has wound back coronavirus restrictions, having recorded no new cases of Covid-19 for more than three weeks. From today, people in the NT can to use public swimming pools, waterparks, go fishing or boating with friends and play golf. Outdoor weddings and funerals are OK and playgrounds, parks and reserves are being reopened, though social distancing rules still apply.

“Today we make our first steps on the road to recovery, because we are the safest place in Australia, we can do this before the rest of Australia,” said NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner.

2. The ACT has become the first Australian jurisdiction free of all known cases of Covid-19. There are now no known active cases of coronavirus remaining in Canberra, after 106 diagnoses in recent weeks. The ACT is expanding testing and eventually may ease restrictions.

3. Scientists in the US hailed the first effective treatment against the coronavirus, with an experimental drug able to “block” Covid-19. A leading infectious diseases expert, backed by White House immunologist Dr Anthony Fauci, says evidence shows clearly that the experimental antiviral drug remdesivir can block the virus. While investigations continue, the drug is being rolled out.

4. New hope for Virgin Australia. One of Australia’s richest men, the mining magnate Andrew Forrest, is planning a bid for the airline, according to the Australian Financial Review. Forrest, nicknamed “Twiggy” is said to be seeking the advice of investment bank Credit Suisse on the matter. While Virgin Australia was placed into administration last week with debts of up to AUD 6 billion, it is thought still to be worth billions.

5. As many as 90 coronavirus vaccines are at various stages of development around the world. Scientists believe an anti-viral nasal spray could treat Covid-19 and stop the infection reaching the lungs. Pneumagen, a company linked to Scotland’s University of St Andrews, has carried out three separate lab-based studies.

  • A team at Britain’s Oxford University says it will get an early indication in about six weeks as to whether its own vaccine works on humans. All indications are that it will, with tests on macaque apes showing it to be extremely effective. About 80 humans have now been vaccinated and are being monitored. Meanwhile, Germany’s medical regulator, the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut, has given German biotech firm BioNTech and partner Pfizer the green light to start the first coronavirus vaccine clinical trial in that country.

6. New Zealand’s Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters reiterated his desire to get tourism flowing across the Tasman. “Given that 55% of our tourists come from Australia, the sooner as we get some sense of normalcy … the better,” he said yesterday.

Peters acknowledged that the resumption of regular travel depended on community transmission ending in both countries (which would end the need for current quarantine arrangements), Both New Zealand and Australia are at the forefront of international efforts to get the virus under control, giving cause for optimism. Trans-Tasman links are expected to be the first international connections to re-start.

7. News of fantastic bargains in dreamily exotic places have people yearning to travel. The Sydney Morning Herald told the story of a Ukrainian woman and her daughter who arrived in Bali just before the Covid-19 outbreak and decided to ride out the pandemic there. They are having a wonderful time, paying just (wait for it!) $240 A MONTH to stay in a new luxury hotel in seaside Kuta. Perhaps unsurprisingly, they have no plans to leave.

Written by Peter Needham

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