What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

·3-min read
People walk down a city laneway after coronavirus disease restrictions were eased in Melbourne
People walk down a city laneway after coronavirus disease restrictions were eased in Melbourne

(Reuters) - Here's what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:

Four-month lockdown lifted in Melbourne

Melbourne's shops, restaurants and hotels opened for business on Wednesday after a four-month coronavirus lockdown, with customers in the city of five million enjoying alfresco eating in the spring sunshine and shopkeepers hoping for big sales to make up for lost revenue.

Salons and restaurants still have to comply with strict spacing requirements that cap dining numbers at 10 per indoor space and 50 outdoor, which will make it uneconomic for some businesses to reopen. Others have already closed for good.

"It's quite a sunny day here in Melbourne," said student Ben Israelson, 22, who was drinking coffee with a university friend. "It's not over yet, but I'm pretty excited about things opening up again."

Mainland China reports most new cases in more than 2 months

Mainland China reported 42 new COVID-19 cases on Oct. 27, the highest daily toll in more than two months due to a rise in infections in the northwestern Xinjiang region, the country's health authority said on Wednesday.

Of the new cases, 22 in the city of Kashgar in Xinjiang were previously asymptomatic patients. The region's health authorities reported 19 symptomless infections, accounting for half the new asymptomatic cases reported in the country.

China does not recognise symptomless cases as confirmed COVID-19 infections.

Kashgar health officials said the COVID-19 testing drive for the 4.75 million people in the area was completed as of Tuesday afternoon and a total of 183 people were confirmed to have been infected with the virus. The cases are linked to a garment factory, though it is not yet clear how the infections began.

S.Korea's conscripted doctors feel efforts unrecognised

As the coronavirus pandemic began sweeping through South Korea late in February, 1,900 young men were conscripted from medical school to serve a term of 36 months as a public health doctor instead of regular military service.

After eight months on the frontlines of the virus battle, the young doctors are credited with pulling off the strategy to target hotspots with rapid, mass testing and contact tracing.

As in the military, they were given no choice, often feeling their efforts went unrecognised, even as South Korea eventually flattened the curve of infections and won global praise for its response. "Our role is little known outside," said Choi Seung-jin, one of the conscripted doctors who spent six weeks at a temporary testing facility near Seoul's Incheon airport. "But our job has never subsided."

English data patchy, researchers say, as new dashboard launched

There are significant problems with the availability and quality of COVID-19 data in England, British researchers said on Wednesday as they launched a dashboard to help make sense of the patchwork of stats.

The COVID Response Evaluation Dashboard (COVID RED) presents available statistics from Public Health England, the Office for National Statistics and the National Health Service and also highlights where more data are needed.

The researchers said there were gaps in information over whether confirmed COVID-19 cases were followed up, the number of people isolating with symptoms in England, and about the number of people needing or receiving support.

They added that often the best available data was up to two weeks old, adding that local lockdowns could only be informed by the most up-to-date information.

(Compiled by Karishma Singh; Editing by Himani Sarkar)