As Victoria continues to see an uptick in coronavirus cases, all eyes are on where the cases are coming from and the best measure to slow the new outbreak.
While most cases are being recorded in hotel quarantine from overseas travellers, the latest epidemiology report published by the National Incident Room shows exactly where most of our new cases have been acquired overseas.
While Europe and cruise ships initially played as the biggest source of acquisition, and still account for the majority of overseas-acquired infections overall, June has seen a shift in where travellers are coming into contact with the virus.
According to the report, between June 8-21, 45 per cent of cases acquired their infection overseas, while 51 per cent of cases were locally acquired. The remaining 4 per cent were under investigation. Of the locally acquired cases, 73 per cent were a contact of a case or in a known cluster, while 23 per cent were unable to be linked to another case.
For international arrivals, the most overseas-acquired cases in the last four weeks have been from Southern and Central Asia, followed by North Africa, the Middle East, and Europe.
Similar epidemiology reports published earlier in the year reported all cases in Australia had travel history in China.
The source of acquisition has varied greatly by jurisdiction in the latest fortnight period, according to the report, with most of Victoria’s cases being locally acquired, while almost 90 per cent of cases in NSW and even Queensland were overseas acquired and detected in returned travellers in hotel quarantine.
While only Australian citizens, permanent residents and their families are allowed to travel to Australia, exemptions are allowed for certain compassionate reasons and for people considered to have “critical skills”.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison closed Australia’s borders on March 20 in a bid to slow the spread of coronavirus. It’s a decision that’s been praised as being a significant factor in keeping Australia’s cases low in comparison to other parts of the world, including the US, UK, Brazil, Spain and Italy.
Since the announcement of border closures, more than 25,000 people have been returned to Australia through repatriation flights, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).
In addition, many more have made their own way back to Australia bringing the total of returned Australian citizens and permanent residents to almost 350,000.