We describe the impact of COVID-19 mitigation measures on mosquito-borne diseases in Queensland, Australia, during the first half of 2020. Implementation of restrictions coincided with an atypical late season outbreak of Ross River virus (RRV) characterized by a peak in notifications in April (1173) and May (955) which were greater than 3-fold the mean observed for the previous four years. We propose that limitations on human movement likely resulted in the majority of RRV infections being acquired at or near the place of residence, and that an increase in outdoor activities, such as gardening and bushwalking in the local household vicinity, increased risk of exposure to RRV-infected mosquitoes. In contrast, the precipitous decline in international passenger flights led to a reduction in the number of imported dengue and malaria cases of over 70% and 60%, respectively, compared with the previous five years. This substantial reduction in flights also reduced a risk pathway for importation of exotic mosquitoes, but the risk posed by importation via sea cargo was not affected. Overall, the emergence of COVID-19 has had a varied impact on mosquito-borne disease epidemiology in Queensland, but the need for mosquito surveillance and control, together with encouragement of personal protective measures, remains unchanged.
Keywords: Australia; COVID-19; Ross River virus; arbovirus; mosquito; transmission.