Covid-29

Dan O'Heirity

According to my first data source – which is updated in real time for the number of confirmed cases worldwide and for the number of new cases and deaths with these latter figures being reset at GMT+0 each day – there have been 678,113 cases worldwide along with 31,748 deaths worldwide. This represents 15,034 new cases and 891 new deaths. The United States has logged 123,781 cases representing an increase of 203 cases over yesterday. There have been 8 new deaths in the United States giving a figure of 2,229 fatalities. Italy has not registered any new cases and so the total number of cases in Italy remains at 92,472. Neither has Italy logged any new deaths and so the total number of fatalities stands at 10,023.

China has registered 81,439 cases, in increase of 45 cases over yesterday. China has registered 5 new deaths bringing the total number of fatalities to 3,300. Spain has seen 78,797 cases, an increase of 5,562 cases over yesterday. There have been 6,528 deaths in Spain, an increase of 546 fatalities over yesterday. Australia is creeping up the league table – a fact we will discuss in more detail later – with a total of 3,969 cases, an increase of 334 cases over yesterday. Australia has registered 2 new deaths, giving a total number of deaths of 16.

According to my second data source – which is also updated in real time but without daily figures for new cases and new fatalities – there have been 678,720 cases worldwide along with 31,700 deaths. The United States has had 124,686 cases along with 2,191 fatalities. Italy has registered 92,472 cases and 10,023 deaths. It has struck me for the first time that fatalities in Italy make up one third of all fatalities around the world. China has experienced 81,120 cases and there have been 3,304 deaths. Spain has registered 78,797 cases along with 6,528 fatalities. Taken together Italy and Spain account for around 50% of fatalities worldwide. Finally, Australia has registered 3,980 cases and 16 deaths meaning that the reported deaths yesterday in Australia were simply wrong. Somehow the data must have become corrupted.

Anyway, this page will be interesting for those who want a more nuanced analysis of the Covid-19 situation in Australia. Updated as of today, Sunday 29th March 2020, the page makes some interesting points. For example, the last 48 hours has seen significant increase in cases in Australia with 20 per cent, or 803 new cases being reported in the past 48 hours. This increase is readily explained by the fact that the number of tests carried out also increased significantly during this period of time. This begs the question, of course, of how many cases there really are in Australia because the actual testing rate seems to be woefully low.

For example, the State with the highest testing rate per 100,000 residents – South Australia -has only tested 1,423 people per 100,000 residents. New South Wales, which has the highest number of Covd-19 cases of any State in Australia, has only tested 1,146 people per 100,000 residents. However, the number of tests along with the number of confirmed cases is not the only important factor in the Covid-19 situation in Australia. The growth rate of the virus is also important and in this respect Australia has seen the growth rate double every 3-4 days, a fact which again can probably be explained in terms of testing rates.

The data can also be cut in a number of ways. For example, looking purely at the number of Covid-19 cases across the States in Australia puts New South Wales at the top of the table followed by Victoria, and then Queensland. However, if we look at the number of cases per 100,000 of the population in these States then the figures for the number of residents shows New South Wales has the highest rate of infection per 100,000 residents, followed by Australian Capital Territory, then South Australia.

The question that tumbles out of this brief look at facts and figures concerns whether the relatively low number of cases of the Covid19 virus in Australia is really due to the fact that Australia is not carrying out a sufficient number of tests. In order to answer this question I would need to look at testing rates in other countries with comparable numbers of cases, something that I do not have the energy to do right now. The other slightly odd fact about the Australia figures is the extremely low fatality rate. I’ve written before about how the fatality rate is, to some degree linked with demographics. For example, an older population, males versus females, rates of smoking amongst males and females in different age categories. Again, and I may do this better gauge what might happen in Australia, I would need to look at our demographics more carefully.

I have written before on China’s culpability with respect to the Covid-19 virus and their unwillingness to acknowledge this fact or to do anything about the unsanitary conditions in their market places, slaughter houses and factory farms which make the environments breading grounds for diseases. And so, this story about having apparently identified Patient Zero came as a complete surprise. The fact that the woman was a shrimp seller at a live market in Wuhan did not come as a surprise. Nor did the fact that the article, like many other articles, refers to China’s attempt to initially cover up the virus outbreak whilst also pointing to the devastation that the virus has now caused worldwide. I wonder what it feels like to know that you were the first person in the world to have a virus that has now accounted for over 600,00 Covid-19 cases and over 25,000 fatalities.

And now to my favourite part of my posts, the “people are crap section”. I shall start with a news story. In what can only be termed an act of complete and utter stupidity, Queensland held local elections on Saturday 28th March 2020. The article notes that voting poses a lethal risk to voters and an academic has said that going ahead with the elections “boggles the mind”. The article also notes that a key challenge with dealing with the Covid-19 virus is that people believe that the risk has been exaggerated. I return to a point that I have belaboured in nearly every one of my Covid-19 observations. People are stupid. Are they not looking at the statistics? Are they not reading the news stories? Apparently not.

Today I walked to the local park to exercise for an hour by by interspersing walking the circumference of the green with doing push ups and sit ups and star jumps and a whole host of other exercises to make up for not being able to use weights. There was no social distancing risk as the park is massive and there were very few people using the space. Then, three cars rolled up and 7 twenty somethings jumped out of the cars. They were of a type for Australia, the men wearing their baseball caps backwards and sporting too much stubble and the women with large arses and big tits and given to shrieking and screaming.

Now, get this. They decided to play “touch” Australian Rules Football. My God. If infected they could not have done more to pass on the virus to the other players. Me, I watched in disbelief and continued with my walk. When all is said and done, if the virus takes off in Australia, then it will have been the fault of a percentage of the population who are just dumb. True, we have our first reported cases of people being charged in the first instance with breaching a quarantine order and in the second instance for contravening bio-security checkpoints. But really, two people in the whole of Australia being charged with offences when we know full well that people are flouting the social isolation rules all over Australia. My previous reports on people flocking to New South Wales beaches in their hundreds supports this point.

Now to the Australian government or, rather, to a somewhat confusing news article about current government regulations with respect to the Covid-19 virus. First, the article reports that people must stay home unless it is absolutely necessary to go out and yet at the same time schools will remain open. I know the incident rate amongst school aged children is not high but what about the teachers, the other school staff and the parents who will have to pick up their children? Large gatherings, such as weddings have also been banned.

On the travel front, the new security powers “drastically” reduce overseas travel and require anyone travelling into Australia from overseas to self-quarantine in a hotel in the State in which they arrive for 14 days. Granted, apart from reporting a few days ago on the situation at Sydney airport where hundreds of arriving travellers were crammed together at customs, I have not kept across the travel situation. However, it seems that 3000-5000 people per day are arriving at Sydney airport and that the new measures have put in place because people could not be trusted to self-isolate. For example, police caught 33 medical professionals returning from a conference in South America attempting to avoid the 14 day quarantine. Whilst this is by no means a scientific analysis of the situation it might be fair to infer that current measures have been put in place because the Australian border was not previously being managed effectively. This is disconcerting to say the least with two-thirds of the country’s 3635 cases apparently coming from or being closely linked to overseas travellers.

First Published March 29th, 2020

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