Chart analysis by Keith Rankin – The 2020 news cycle has become completely dominated by (probably unintentional, but certainly careless) fearmongering about ‘corona‑virus’. What is the reality in early March?
The chart looks at new cases in the 10 countries with the most cases, plus United Kingdom and Australia.
We see that the outbreak is essentially under control in China. While there are a few new cases, the percentage increase in China this month is practically zero. There is still plenty of ‘fuel’ in China; more than 99 percent of the people in Wuhan – ground zero – did not get Covid‑19. It is looking like 99 percent of Wuhan’s population will never get it.
There’s plenty of mischievous speculation about the future of the Olympic Games in Japan. While Japan has about 1,000 cases – mostly linked to the Diamond Princess cruise ship that was incubating the virus, with many of the rest in the cold north of Japan – the growth of new cases this month is less than 10 percent.
South Korea is clearly slowing down. Iran much less so. Both countries are cold in February.
The European outbreak is centred on northern Italy, again a cold place in February. Other larger countries in western Europe have had substantial Covid‑19 expansion this month. In addition, small cold Northern European countries are seeing a rapid growth of cases this week. Scandinavia is badly affected, though off our radar in New Zealand. Iceland has 26 cases; Norway 56.
The main cases in warm tropical or near‑tropical countries are in transport hubs such as Singapore, with local transmission being limited but not absent. Philippines – which had the first non‑Chinese corona‑virus death – has only had three cases in total. The affected countries are mainly rich countries, with lots of air‑conditioning. The experience of the Diamond Princess cruise ship suggests that air-conditioning may facilitate the virus spread.
While none of us can predict the future, it looks like a combination of effective identification and isolation, and the coming of summer in the northern hemisphere will end the global panic. New Zealand, however, may see an increase in cases in the South Island in June.