Analysis by Keith Rankin.
Today’s chart compares this week’s Covid-19 outbreak in New Zealand with the latest case-data from other comparable countries.
Note that the data plots new daily cases, smoothed using seven-day averages. However, the ‘black square’ represents New Zealand’s most recent daily total of new cases, at 260 per 100 million people (which is 13 per five million people).
Of these countries, the worst affected over the last week are the three Scandinavian countries: Sweden, Denmark, and Iceland. Australian case-data nearly got as bad as Sweden’s, but is now falling. Ireland and Denmark are now experiencing ten times the number of new cases compared to their lows over the two months. So, while world numbers appear to be stabilising – though not falling – Australian-style outbreaks have been common in countries comparable to New Zealand.
Iceland has had the most dramatic recent outbreak, among these countries.
Canada has stabilised somewhat; and had case numbers half of Australia’s a week ago. But Canada’s cases remain four times higher than ours.
Because New Zealand acted quickly to contain this outbreak, I do not think that our case data will reach anything like that in these other countries. Rather, it will look more like South Korea’s – not shown here – which has been consistently averaging about 60 per 100 million new daily cases.
It’s great that this evening the government has shown confidence in our ability to contain and eliminate this new outbreak, and that they were not pressured into ‘pressing the panic button’. Level 4 (or Level 5; level 4 plus the mandatory use of masks when people are outside their homes) would have meant huge extra costs for minimal extra benefit. Last time, we essentially eliminated the coronavirus – then a Level 3 threat – using a Level 4 response. This time we are sensibly treating a Level 2 threat with a Level 3 response.
I walked around the block today, and also bought a coffee and scone from a local café. There are signs of two-metre distancing, children in local parks with their parents, bicycle riding, and happy walkers greeting others while courteously avoiding them; about 90 percent without masks. This is as it should be, outdoors, and how we stayed sane last time. We can save our masks, clean, to be used while shopping.
It should also be noted that, from the genetic information available, this outbreak links directly to the Melbourne outbreak. It suggests that the source of the outbreak is either refrigerated imports from Melbourne – ie via the Mt Wellington cold store Americold – or via aircrew (as distinct from airport staff) flying from Melbourne.