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COVID-19 in Australia

    COVID-19 In Australia

    Origins of the COVID-19 Pandemic

    Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is caused by the novel severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The first case of COVID-19 was first identified in humans in China in December 2019 and spread rapidly, resulting in a worldwide pandemic. However, recent studies show that the virus spread around the world earlier than officially reported. In Italy, for example, the first official COVID-19 case was confirmed in February 2020. But COVID-19 was circulating in Italy from September 2019, according to a study by the Italian National Cancer Institute published in the Tumori Journal.That study examined samples from a lung cancer screening trial between September 2019 and March 2020. The findings show that 11.6% of the 959 healthy volunteers enrolled in the trial had developed coronavirus antibodies well before February 2020. 

    This is the main finding: people with no symptoms not only were positive after the serological tests but had also antibodies able to kill the virus. It means that the new coronavirus can circulate among the population for long and with a low rate of lethality not because it is disappearing but only to surge again, Giovanni Apolone said.

    It is important to know how a disease spreads in order to get a handle on what might happen next

    The first cases detected in Australia were in late January 2020.



    Confirmed Coronavirus Cases, 1 January 2021








    On 1 January 2021, a total of 59,321,908 (97%) cases had recovered from coronavirus. There were 22,659,240 active cases of currently infected patients worldwide. Of these 106,378 (0.5%) were in a serious or critical condition. The figure below shows a rapid rise in active cases over the course of 2020.

    Rapid rise in active coronavirus cases worldwide, Jan-Dec, 2020

    Rapid rise in active coronavirus cases worldwide

    Source: Worldometer, 1 January 2021, 02:27 GMT








    Source: Worldometer, 1 January 2021, 02:27 GMT

    On 1 January 2021, Australia recorded 1,750 active cases of infected patients. None (0.0%) of these were considered serious or critical. However, with the increase in cases and every life lost, we are ever mindful that the coronavirus outbreak is a global health emergency.


    Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cases make up 0.5% of all confirmed cases in Australia

    • 90 cases acquired in major cities in Australia
    • 15 cases acquired in inner regional Australia
    • 6 cases acquired in outer regional Australia
    • 1 case acquired in remote Australia
    • 4 cases acquired interstate
    • 31 cases acquired overseas

    Source: Communicable Diseases Intelligence, 6 December 2020

    No new acquired overseas cases have been reported among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people since the end of August 2020 and the last locally-acquired case was reported at the start of September 2020.

    COVID-19 Indigenous by status Australia

    National COVID-19 notification rate per 100,000 population by age group and Indigenous status, Australia, 23 January – 6 December 2020

    Source: Communicable Diseases Intelligence, 6 December 2020

    The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population had a lower COVID-19 case rate than the non-Indigenous population after accounting for differences in age structure. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 70–79 years had the highest notification rate (36.0 cases per 100,000 population), while those aged 0–9 years had the lowest notification rate (6.9 cases per 100,000 population).

    Community Concerns

    Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are at increased risk of COVID-19 severity and mortality due to longstanding health and socioeconomic inequities and disparities with the rest of Australia. This is particularly so for those living in Indigenous communities. Our findings show wide disparities in health care services and infrastructure and facilities, including poor access to water, food, roads and power, and inadequate housing for larger family groups and vulnerable elderly, which magnify COVID-19 risk. These concerns are compounded in communities located in remote and very remote lands across Australia.

    We can’t have bodies stacked up in the yard because we have no cool areas to keep them. We don’t have that luxury. We didn’t have a morgue here. We have none of that, said Mr Richard King, General Manager, Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara.

    That Spanish flu came through and killed our people … so it’s something that is on people’s minds, said Elder Bevan Costello, Aboriginal Shire Council.

    I am worried and our people here are worried as well. We got tourists coming through. We don’t know if they are infected with it, said Ray Dixon, Musician.

    If this virus gets into Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, it will be absolute devastation, said Pat Turner, CEO National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO).