Why QLD, NSW avoided outbreak from Melbourne couple: Experts

See all newsletters

Covid-19 transmission is more likely in busy settings like airports than in country towns, an expert said. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Joel CarrettSource:News Corp Australia

A Melbourne couple infected with Covid-19 travelled from Victoria to Queensland making multiple stops in NSW, but the two northern states have seemingly avoided outbreaks.

The couple, who were moving interstate because of the husband’s new job, entered Queensland on June 5 after a four-day road trip staying at hotels, visiting cafes, and even going to the cinema in Dubbo and hot springs in Moree in NSW.

So far, no further cases have been detected from their interactions, despite the fact both were believed to be infectious with the Kappa strain of the virus at the time.

Murdoch University Professor of Immunology Cassandra Berry said it was “good news” and that the most likely reason was that the couple luckily were not shedding the virus as much as some others do.

“Not everyone who get the virus is equally contagious,” she said.

“People shed the virus at different levels depending on a lot of factors — their genetics, how ill they are, how severe the disease it, how much the virus is growing in their upper respiratory tract.”

She added that the virus was more likely to spread in busy environments with lots of people rushing around.

This is because body heat and movement keeps saliva droplets suspended in the air for longer, Professor Berry explained.

See all newsletters

Covid-19 testing clinic staff members wait for clients in Brisbane. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Dan PeledSource:News Corp Australia

Transmission was more likely in hectic cities like New York, or inside frantic train stations and airports, than in country towns in NSW and Queensland.

“If you’re speaking, or shouting, or singing, some saliva can come out and contaminate the air, and that air can be inhaled by a bystander,” she said.

“Those saliva droplets, depending on the environment, can dry out. They shrink in size and can stay in the air for longer periods of time.

The Party Games newsletter Get your political briefing from news.com.au’s political editor Samantha Maiden.

The Party Games newsletter Success! Check your inbox for details. See all newsletters

“Everybody has body heat, and that updraft of hot air keeps whatever’s coming out of our mouth elevated for a period of time.

“If we’re busy rushing past people, that also causes a lot of air turbulence and you can have the virus suspended.

“We’re very lucky with our geographical distribution, and we don’t really have the huge ultra-megacities like some other countries.”

Flinders University epidemiologist Emma Miller said the couple had visited venues with sustained close contact with other people, like at the movie theatre.

But she said a bullet was dodged because of three important factors that must not have all been in play.

“One, the level of viral shedding that’s going on in an infected person. Two, the circulation of air. Three, the proximity and susceptibility of the people in the area,” she said.

“All those factors have to come into play, and they explain why sometimes we see really easy transmission with very little contact, and yet sometimes really low transmission when there were opportunities for there to be.

“How close were they to people? How good was the ventilation in the area? Were people around them staying at a good distance, were they wearing masks? That may explain what happened.

“We’re starting to get used to this tale with this new variant that fleeting contact can cause a case — and that is absolutely true, but there are factors that are involved in a transmission.”

See all newsletters

A Covid-19 testing clinic staff member swabs a client in Brisbane. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Dan PeledSource:News Corp Australia

She agreed it seemed the couple had low levels of viral shedding on the trip despite being in an infectious period while in NSW.

She noted testing was still being done in Queensland and the state was on “tenterhooks” as results continued to come back, but that NSW appeared to have escaped unscathed.

“They were not superspreaders and it sounds like they weren’t that ill even if they were symptomatic, because they were participating in all those activities,” she said.

Monash University Epidemiological Modelling Unit head James Trauer said that a small number of Covid patients were responsible for a lot of further infections.

At the same time, many infected people caused zero further transmission.

NSW and Queensland got lucky in that the Melbourne couple do not appear to be superspreaders.

“Part of that is just the nature of the virus,” he said.

“You get a handful of people who tend to be extremely infectious and then you get a large proportion of people who are not infectious at all.

“The way that plays out is that you can have a positive case that can very easily die out, but if it does take off you can have rapid explosive outbreaks.”

He also said that the way states reacted to events like the Melbourne couple was likely to change as more Australians became vaccinated.

Once over 60 per cent of the population received the jab, two cases should not be a cause for widespread alarm, Associate Professor Trauer said.

See all newsletters

Queenslanders are urged to get tested if they have any Covid-19 symptoms as the search for any follow-on cases from an infected Melbourne couple that entered the state continues. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Dan PeledSource:News Corp Australia

It was only because states like Queensland had achieved zero cases that life was able to return almost to normal, which is why there was so much focus on keeping cases at zero.

“The real concern is that we’re still essentially going for an elimination strategy, even though we seem in Australia to have this aversion to ever calling it that,” he said.

“I feel like we’re not doing enough to communicate to the public that the reason we’re doing this is because when we get totally to zero you can go so much back to normal.

That is working at the moment, and should work up until we get vaccinated — and then we change the approach.

“Then we should accept some transmission in the community and we should really be looking to move away from lockdowns.”

The first to test positive in the Melbourne couple who travelled to Queensland returned a positive result on June 8 after being tested because it was required for the husband’s new job.

The woman had been experiencing symptoms since June 3.

The pair relocated while Melbourne was in lockdown and the whole state was considered a hotspot by Queensland, meaning any Victorians who crossed the border were supposed to enter hotel quarantine for 14 days.

Victoria’s Covid-19 Commander Jeroen Weimer on Saturday said “lengthy” interviews had been conducted with the couple and their exposure sites in Victoria had been traced back to May 18.

Their destination in Queensland was Caloundra on the Sunshine Coast where they stayed with family.

News Related


Covid-19 Qld: zero new local cases

Queensland’s latest Covid-19 numbers have been released and zero new cases were recorded. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Tertius PickardSource:News Corp Australia Queensland has recorded zero new locally acquired Covid-19 cases on Saturday. ... Read more »

NBN roundtable returns focus to customer needs - and NBN Co's costs

Areas of scrutiny revealed. Read more »

‘We were pretty shocked': Melbourne man speaks out about contracting Covid-19 at AAMI Park

Zac (left) tested positive to Covid-19 after attending the Wallabies match at AAMI Park. Picture: 9NewsSource:NCA NewsWire A young Melbourne man has opened up about contracting Covid-19 at a “super ... Read more »

Covid-19 Victoria: 12 new local cases recorded

New locally acquired cases have been recorded in Victoria. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Ian CurrieSource:News Corp Australia Victoria has recorded 12 new locally acquired cases of Covid-19 on Saturday. In ... Read more »

The Project: Dr Norman Swan's brutal lockdown prognosis

Carrie Bickmore and Norman Swan on The Project. Picture: Channel 10.Source:Supplied A health expert has told The Project’s Carrie Bickmore that New South Wales “might not get over” its current ... Read more »

Anger at Prime Minister Scott Morrison grows over coronavirus failures

Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Picture: Gary RamageSource:News Corp Australia Backlash against the prime minister has grown overnight with Scott Morrison the topic of conversation from Australian screens to the UK. ... Read more »

Calls for tower apology, Victoria enters seventh day in lockdown

• This coronavirus article is unlocked and free to read in the interest of community health and safety. Click here for full digital access to trusted news from the Herald ... Read more »

Melbourne couple sentenced for owning and exercising power over a slave

Kandasamy and Kumuthini Kannan were jailed on Wednesday. Picture: Andrew Henshaw/NCA NewsWireSource:News Corp Australia Kumuthini Kannan sat rocking in her chair on Wednesday, the same way she had on numerous ... Read more »

Press Council Adjudication

.Source:News Regional Media The Press Council considered whether its Standards of Practice were breached by an article published by the Herald Sun online on 21 January 2021 headed “Mill Park ... Read more »

Live breaking news: Growing fears NSW has lost control of worsening Delta strain covid outbreaks across Sydney

LIVE Last updated July 22, 2021 7:27AM AEST There are growing fears NSW has lost control of the Delta outbreak. There are growing fears New South Wales has lost control ... Read more »

Covid-19 SA: Centrelink office added to huge list of exposure sites as lockdown continues

Centrelink at Modbury has become one of the latest Covid-19 exposure locations, listed by SA Health. Picture: Scott Barbour/Getty ImagesSource:Supplied A busy Centrelink office in Adelaide’s north eastern suburbs is ... Read more »

Katie Hopkins blasts Australia's leaders for ‘imprisoning' people amid lockdowns

Katie Hopkins takes to Instagram Live to criticise harsh lockdowns as she quarantines in Sydney.Source:Supplied Katie Hopkins has blasted Australia’s handling of the pandemic to her large international following, declaring ... Read more »

Farmer Wants A Wife star denies domestic violence allegations

Farmer Sam Messina.Source:Supplied Farmer Wants a Wife star Sam Messina has strongly denied seven alleged domestic violence offences against a former girlfriend. A Current Affair reported the bombshell allegations last ... Read more »

Gold Coast teen creates viral sensation after puffy corn chip attracts $20k bid on eBay

The corn chip now has bids of $20,300.Source:Supplied A Gold Coast teenager has become the centre of a viral sensation after her unique corn chip attracted bids of more than ... Read more »

Woman hits back after cruel letter accuses her of being a bad owner for leaving her dog in the car

An angry note was left by someone who saw Drake in the car on his own. Picture: SuppliedSource:news.com.au An angry letter has left a Canberra local rattled after she found ... Read more »

Women separated from their partners during birth, pregnancy complications and miscarriage

A Sydney woman was forced to endure a traumatic procedure without her husband.Source:Supplied A Sydney woman who miscarried twins is among a growing cohort of women who say their treatment ... Read more »

PM pleads with Queenslanders eligible for AstraZeneca to get the ‘totally safe' vaccine now

​The PM insists AstraZeneca is ‘totally safe’, highlighting it has been given the ‘seal of approval’ from the TGA. Picture: Nikki Short / NCA NewsWireSource:News Corp Australia Prime Minister Scott ... Read more »

Sydney professor Dianne Jolley guilty of sending herself fake threatening letters

Former UTS professor Dianne Jolley has been found guilty of sending herself a bizarre series of fake threats. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Jeremy PiperSource:News Corp Australia A high-ranking Sydney academic ... Read more »

‘Man with bloody face' sought after fatal Newcastle shooting

A man was wounded in a daylight shooting in Newcastle on Thursday, officials have said. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gaye GerardSource:News Corp Australia Newcastle police have asked the public to ... Read more »

Orient Futures in Singapore leverages Snowflake data analytics

Orient Futures Singapore aspires to be a ‘broker of the future’ by become intrinsically data driven. Read more »

ACCC to examine Amazon, eBay, Kogan and other marketplaces

Over rising competition concerns. Read more »

Brad Hazzard flags tough new mask exemption rule in fight against Delta Covid outbreak

Nurses are seen working at the Covid Testing clinic at Fairfield Showground, as essential workers in Sydney are now required to be tested every three days. Picture: NCA Newswire /Gaye ... Read more »

Sacked CEO refused to leave job at ritzy music school: court

The school teaches degrees, certificates and diplomas related to music and speech. Picture: iStockSource:istock A music school in one of Melbourne’s wealthiest suburbs is embroiled in a 17-month court battle ... Read more »

CBA takes 25 percent stake in two NBN retail service providers

Will offer 'discounted NBN and broadband' to customers. Read more »

Gladys Berejiklian's plan to end lockdown as Sydney outbreak explodes

Case numbers continue to soar. Picture: Rachael Tosh-ProvanSource:NCA NewsWire Any “adjustments” to restrictions may be outlined on July 31 when Sydney’s lockdown is due to end, but as case numbers ... Read more »

Embracing risk: Leanne Fry's blended 'security and innovation' journey at AUSTRAC

Exploring the financial intelligence agency's strategy and projects. Read more »

Infectious diseases expert reveals when NSW might experience a drop in Covid cases

Cases in NSW continue to soar. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Adam YipSource:News Corp Australia An infectious disease expert says NSW could experience a drop in Covid case numbers as soon ... Read more »

Ex-Service NSW CSTO lands at Deloitte Australia

Michael Cracroft joins consulting giant. Read more »

NSW recorded 124 new virus cases, marking the highest daily infection rate during latest outbreak

The new case numbers have been revealed. Picture: NCA Newswire /Gaye GerardSource:News Corp Australia NSW recorded 124 new virus cases overnight as the state continues to grapple with the latest ... Read more »

Israel appoints task force to assess NSO spyware allegations

Senior inter-ministerial team assembled. Read more »

NSW restrictions to stay until ‘majority vaccinated'

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian.Source:Supplied NSW Premier Gladys says beating Delta is almost impossible and the only way NSW opens up fully again is when the “majority are vaccinated”. NSW recorded ... Read more »

Service NSW to hire 200 engineers, designers

Recruitment drive gets underway. Read more »

US officials tried to stop Aussie locals reporting UFO sighting

No place for crackpots … journalist and author Ross Coulthart is investigating the UFO/UAP phenomenon.Source:News Corp Australia Australia has a long history of encounters with unexplained aerial objects, stretching from ... Read more »

The Palms Aged Care home locked down, fenced off after worker tests positive

An aged care home is in lockdown. Picture: Channel 9Source:Channel 9 A Sydney aged care home is in lockdown after a staff member tested positive to Covid-19. The nurse from ... Read more »

Services Australia to grow in-house IT workforce, shrink contractor reliance

Reveals plans for 70/30 split by 2025. Read more »

Younger residents hit hardest by Delta Covid-19 strain, NSW Premier warns

Younger people are more at risk of the Delta strain. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David SwiftSource:News Corp Australia More than half of those in NSW who have contracted the Delta ... Read more »

UK citizen arrested in Spain for alleged role in 2020 Twitter hack

Which compromised the accounts of high-profile politicians and celebrities. Read more »

PM apologises for vaccine rollout failure, despite previously denying responsibility

CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA – NewsWire Photos JULY 21, 2021: Prime Minister Scott Morrison addresses the media at a press conference at The Lodge. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gary RamageSource:News Corp Australia ... Read more »

Prime Minister Scott Morrison accused of vaccine ‘blame shifting'

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has come under pressure over the vaccine rollout. Picture: Gary Ramage / NCA NewsWireSource:News Corp Australia The Prime Minister’s “constant appeal” to the vaccine advisory group ... Read more »

Amid concerns of Delta in the community, southeast Qld will ease restrictions

Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young says despite Covid-19 restrictions easing in the southeast, she remains concerned about the risk of the Delta variant. Picture: NCA Newswire / Dan PeledSource:News ... Read more »