Analysis by Keith Rankin – estimates, magnitudes, and new countries to be concerned about.
In mid-November, I published Covid-19: Orders of Magnitude. I used Turkey as my example of a Covid19 magnitude 3 country, and South Korea as my magnitude 2 example. Today, less than a month later, Turkey is now looking like a magnitude 4.5 country; magnitude five if you take estimates of unreported cases into account. Turkey’s situation represents a mix of past underreporting, and a recent and substantial new outbreak. It has gone from being near average compared to the rest of the world, to well above average.
Note that New Zealand and Australia, while technically magnitude 2 countries today, should really be understood as magnitude 1, because practically all cases are confined to the international border.
South Korea is one of those Asian exemplars, where mask use is widespread, and contact tracing is legendary. It is now clearly magnitude 3, with its latest outbreak more complex and worrying than previous outbreaks. If New Zealand abandons the ’emergency levels’ approach next time there is a community outbreak, then this South Korea experience is a likely indicator of what New Zealand will look like in the winter of 2021.
Japan is another Asian country with a widespread culture of mask use, and which has not suffered nearly as much as Europe or the Americas. It will also host the July 2021 Olympic Games. While Japan’s cases were much lower than South Korea’s initially, Covid19 has been significantly more prevalent in Japan than Korea for the last six months. If we in New Zealand ever get Covid19 incidence on the scale of Japan, this would be seen as a substantial case of government failure.
The United States has now recorded 3,000 deaths in one day. That number of deaths implies a true infection level 200 times higher; 600,000 new cases per day, 15 cases per day in every American town the size of Te Puke. Before Thanksgiving Day, the United States looked to have turned the corner, at least for the present wave of infections. But its now looking like USA will reach 100,000 recorded daily cases per 100 million people (that’s 330,000 recorded daily cases) in the New Year. And 4,000 daily deaths.
Denmark is a Scandinavian country with a population just 750,000 higher than New Zealand, and which implemented much more restrictive policies than did its neighbour Sweden. Denmark has had an extended facemask requirement from October 29 (due to be lifted on 2 January 2021). The policy has not worked! Denmark’s incidence of Covid19 is nearly as high as Sweden’s.