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Coronavirus- A New Hope – 28/3/2020

3635 official cases in Australia as of 3 pm today – Saturday 29th. The new reporting system has been in place for a week. Totals are at 3 pm and not 6 am.

Proper border protection and social awareness and distancing is starting to work.

Through the week of 14 to 21st the numbers grew 25% day on day. Horrific growth.  4.76 times growth in one week. 22 fold in two weeks. 108 fold in 3 weeks.

Through the week 21 to 28th the growth rate has dropped significantly to under 20% day on day. That’s a big deceleration in the acceleration of numbers. “Only” 3.37 times in a week.

If we can bring the day on day increase down to 15% by next weekend, we will (officially) have around 10,000 people with the virus. The problem will then be finding the significant number of people with no apparent connection to travel because they are the contacts of the contacts with the travellers. If all the travellers have returned and all self isolaoted for a fortnight, the numbers should plummet because there should be no-one who has not been traced. But if there is a hidden reservoir of infection it could linger on and on. We need to put tracking devices on the people who are positive, so they stay in one place and not flout the common sense rules. Korea already has an App for that.

My previous predictions have been proven to be optimistic (I have underestimated the numbers involved) but I do believe we can now avoid being another Italy or Spain. The number of new cases each day is dropping and that is a great sign. They are the best indicator that the worst has passed. We are unlikely to import such huge seeding numbers in the future.

The lesson regarding epidemics that many Asian countries have taught us is clear – act early and decisively. But we cannot relax vigilance for another 18-24 months – until we have vaccinated a large part of the population. And we must keep our eyes open for flareups in hotspots. The other thing is that people from many other countries have been through a coronavirus epidemic before, so they wear masks and gloves in more situations. We need to wear them now while we are out walking, because not everyone is keeping their 1.5 metre distance.

To date we have held the virus to about 200 cases per million of population. Similar figures apply to New Zealand, South Korea and Singapore. The United Kingdom by comparison has had 600+ cases per million of population and most of mainland Europe well over 1000, with the US having around 1000.  Those countries with a higher rate will find it harder to shut down the hot spots ass they occur.

Air travel has been the vector, carrying cases throughout the world in days. As I have said before, the airplane carries coronavirus in the same way that the mosquito carries malaria.We will need fever detection technology and even rapid virus detection methods to screen the thousands who travel.