Dan O'Heirity

Covid-19 Facts and Figures From Around the World Show Disparity in Death Rates

It has been just a while since I wrote about the Covid-19 virus and so I am going to start by taking a look at the Covid-19 facts and figures. According to my preferred data source, which is updated in real time for new daily cases and fatalities with the data being reset at GMT+0, there have been 41,974,001 confirmed cases and 1,142,642 deaths. The fatality rate stands at 4%. China, the country that started it all, now ranks 54th in the world for number of confirmed cases with a figure of 85,747 cases. China has reported 4,634 deaths giving a fatality rate of 5.40%. The USA ranks number one in the world with 8,661,651 confirmed cases and 228,381 deaths. The fatality rate in the United States is therefore 2.63%. The United Kingdom has reported 810,467 confirmed cases along with 44,347 fatalities. The death rate in the United Kingdom is, therefore, 5.47%. Australia, the country where I reside, has reported 27,476 confirmed cases and 905 deaths giving a fatality rate of 3.69%.

The fatality rates so far reported are broadly in line with overall fatality rate of 4%. However, fatality rates are not consistent around the world. New Zealand has reported 1,914 confirmed cases and 25 deaths giving a fatality rate of 1.30%. This is significantly lower than 4% fatality rate for the virus overall. Argentina has reported 1,053,650 confirmed cases and 27,957 deaths giving a fatality rate of 2.65%. Not as low as New Zealand but still lower than the overall death rate. Chile has reported 497,131 confirmed cases and 13,792 giving a fatality rate of 2.77%. So Chile is close to Argentina and with a fatality rate lower than that of the overall fatality rate. Bangladesh has reported 394,827 confirmed cases with 5,747 deaths giving a fatality rate of 1.45%. Now we are seeing a much lower fatality rate. Israel has reported 308,247 confirmed cases and 2,319 deaths giving a fatality rate of 0.75%. Nepal has reported 148,509 confirmed cases and 812 deaths giving a fatality rate of 0.54% Both of these countries are reporting fatality rates significantly lower than the overall fatality rate.

Australia’s Deaths Are Overwhelmingly Linked to Aged Care Services

I reported above that as of today, 23rd October, 2020, there have been 905 Covid-19 deaths in Australia. According to live data from the Australian government, as of yesterday 22nd October, 2020, 683 of these deaths have occurred amongst people living in Australian Government–subsidised residential aged care facilities. Furthermore, 653 of the 683 deaths in aged care services have happened in the state of Victoria. This means that the 653 deaths in aged care services in Victoria account for 72% of the 905 Covid-19 deaths in Australia. Furthermore, the 683 deaths in aged care services across Australia account for 75% of all deaths in Australia. Moving on from aged care services to look at deaths by age, 843 of the deaths in Australia have occurred in men and women over 70 years old. This means that 93% of all Covid-19 deaths in Australia have occurred in people over 70 years of age. As reported by “The Conversation” there would certainly seem to be systemic flaws in Australia’s aged care sector. At the same time, it would seem to be very clear that Australia has failed to protect those most vulnerable to the Covid-19 virus, the elderly.

Failed Hotel Quarantine Accounts for the Second Covid-19 Wave in Victoria

It would seem fair to say that something went very wrong in Victoria in terms of protecting the most vulnerable members of society. However, the story of what went wrong starts earlier with what can be described as the bungled hotel quarantine of travellers returning to Australia. There are some very sobering figures in this respect. An independent inquiry into the hotel quarantine fiasco has concluded that the scheme has been responsible for 18,000 infections and for 768 deaths. Furthermore, around 90 per cent of the 18,000 infections can reportedly be traced back to a family of four who quarantined at the Rydges hotel in Melbourne. The independent inquiry into the hotel quarantining has been damning in terms of the failure of anyone to take responsibility for the decision so use private security guards to manage the hotel quarantine process. The hearings from the inquiry are publicly available. Fast forward to the 16th October and the news is reporting that the inquiry has reopened almost 3 weeks after final submissions were received. The interim period has seen the resignation of health minister Jenny Mikakos after the premier Daniel Andrews “pointed the finger at her” during the inquiry.

The Victorian Roadmap to Moving Beyond Covid-19 Restrictions

Victoria has had a roadmap in place for moving beyond Covid-19 lockdown measures and restrictions for metropolitan Melbourne eased at 11:59 on 18th October, 2020. One of the most significant changes, from my perspective at least, is that we can now travel 25KM from hour homes as opposed to the 5KM limit that was previously in place. This meant that I was able to ride my motorbike 10KM to a local suburb where I had the most delicious fish and chips. A second major change is that we can leave home for any period of time to exercise or see friends and family outdoors and there is no limit on the number of times that we can leave our homes each day. Other changes include extending the range of outdoor sports activities that can take place, allowing a greater range of on-site work activities and allowing barber shops and hairdressers to open. So, some of our freedoms have been returned to us. However, it is sobering to acknowledge that the initial lockdown measures for metropolitan Melbourne were put in place on the 8th July, 2020 meaning that metropolitan Melbourne has essentially been shut down for 3 months.

I understand that everyone has their own perspective on Covid-19 but looking at the report from the Independent Inquiry into the mishandling of the hotel quarantine, it seems very clear that Victoria’s so called “second wave” of the Covid-19 virus resulted from that single instance of hotel quarantine mismanagement. I would note, just as I did above, that the inquiry has found it incredibly difficult to pinpoint who was responsible for making the decision to use private security guards at the hotel. However, what we do know is that the Victorian premier Dan Andrews is not accepting responsibility. I have said it before and I will say it again, being Premier means that you are ultimately responsible for what happens in your state. Pointing the finger at Jenny Mikakos was despicable behaviour and speaks to week leadership. I know. I’m a manager and I don’t get to blame my staff when something goes wrong.

First Published October 23rd, 2020

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