Global COVID-19 pandemic: latest

Burnet Institute

28 May, 2020

World Health Organization declared global COVID-19 crisis a pandemic on 11 March 2020.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that the Coronavirus pandemic is accelerating, but that it’s still possible to change the trajectory with the adoption of rigorous testing and contact-tracing strategies.

WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: “We need to attack the virus with aggressive and targeted tactics, testing every suspected case, isolating and caring for every confirmed case, and chasing and quarantining every close contact.”

More than 197 countries and territories are now experiencing COVID-19 cases, including Australia, where:

  • There is a ban on Australians flying overseas unless there are special circumstances or they are residents of other countries;
  • People are being urged to stay at home unless travel is absolutely necessary, and then to comply with social distancing measures and stay 1.5 metres apart;
  • Outdoor gatherings are restricted to two people, not including members of person’s household
  • Government and health authorities insist that reducing social interaction is imperative.

Globally there are more than 5,488,800 confirmed cases of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) according to the latest situation report from WHO (as of 27 May 2020).

There have been 206 confirmed cases in Myanmar and eight in Papua New Guinea.

The case fatality rate is high among older people and those with underlying health conditions. Limited data is available about children (although it looks like they are less at risk of serious illness), and almost no data is available on pregnant women.

“Research goes hand in hand with front line responses, one cannot be effective without the other, and Victoria is an international powerhouse when it comes to health and medical research.” - Burnet Director and CEO, Professor Brendan Crabb AC.

Image: (L-R) Professor Sharon Lewin AO; Victorian Health Minister Jenny Mikakos; Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews; Victorian Deputy Chief Health Officer Dr Annalise van Diemen; Victorian Parliamentary Secretary for Medical Research Frank McGuire; Associate Professor David Anderson.

360biolabs joins R&D efforts to combat coronavirus disease

  • 360biolabs announced it will offer assays to support COVID-19 vaccine development and enable laboratory testing of new antivirals and biologics. More at

  • Burnet Institute is studying the experiences of people who have recently or are currently undertaking self-isolation at home for COVID-19 to inform current and future pandemic response. Find out here how you can participate.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

  • Most people who are infected by coronavirus feel like they have a common cold
  • The most common symptoms are fever, sore throat, dry cough and fatigue but some also have headaches, nasal congestion or a runny nose.
  • Diarrhoea and nausea have also been reported but are less common.
  • Symptoms will generally appear three to four days after exposure to the virus but can be up to 14 days later.
  • In serious cases, the symptoms will be similar to influenza.
  • In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.

If you have these symptoms or been in contact with someone who has, the advice is to:

  • Stay home and contact your GP or health professional, or
  • Call the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) dedicated hotline on 1800 675 398.

Latest Updates:

The Australian Government Department of Health is closely monitoring the outbreak.

Read the latest updates from Australia’s Chief Medical Officer.

Other useful resources include:

As more information about the coronavirus becomes available, advice may change over time.


  • On 31 January, WHO declared COVID-19 a global public health emergency of international concern.

  • First identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, in December 2019, COVID-19 is a new virus strain not previously identified in humans.

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Burnet Institute




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