The Code COVID19 International Update is a weekly snapshot of the COVID-19 pandemic, assessing efforts by nations around the world to test, track and fight the virus. It’s compiled by Dr Priscilla Robinson, an Adjunct Associate Professor of Public Health at LaTrobe University, and an editor for the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health.
For some reason the second April report refused to send, so here is a merged second and third weeks. The spreadsheet for both weeks are attached in case anybody needs them.
I hope all enjoyed Global Public Health Week the week before last. If you missed it, or parts of it, there are some brilliant podcasts etc available at the World Federation of Public Health Association’s website.
Worldwide, notified COVID cases shoot through the 500 million mark, an event the world’s press seem to have totally missed. Of whom over six million people have died – the equivalent of a quarter of the population of Australia, and almost the population of Greater London, two thirds of Paris, or half of New York. The case fatality rate seems to be stalled (and even possibly rising slightly, which is not at all good news). The countries summarised on the main spreadsheet now include over 90% of the world’s cases and fatalities, although they include only 76 of the 195 countries worldwide, although about three quarters of the global population.
Cases and fatalities
Worldwide, new cases have dropped again more or less everywhere. Some exceptions this fortnight include various places in the Pacific: New Zealand with a 25% rise in fatalities; Tonga’s cases are up 12%; Samoa approaching 33%; the Cook Islands and Vanuatu 25%; and American Samoa is also up about 10%. In SE Asia, Bhutan is the current hot spot with around a 25% increase. Australia has had fairly close to a 10% rise in cases last week. The Cayman Islands have seen a 10% rise, having had a quiet pandemic so far.
Oddly, reported COVID deaths for the whole of the African region have been very low, and mostly from South Africa … although Africa is having a very quiet patch in general.
This week’s papers
For clinicians, this is a very interesting piece of health news. I will try to track down the original papers for next week:
WHO has now officially decided that COVID is airborne rather than simply a droplet infection.
Another paper published in Nature outlines the history of how and why COVID was not previously, but is now, considered by WHO to be an airborne-transmitted disease, mainly because of the changes in epidemiology with Omicron. Being airborne makes prevention advice a bit different from droplet-borne, as it can travel further and possibly survive a bit longer. AND IT MEANS THAT PREVENTIVE STRATEGIES SUCH AS CONTINUING TO WEAR MASKS IN PUBLIC ARE EVEN MORE IMPORTANT.
Also, a colleague sent me this, so I’m quoting verbatim.
“This is from “The Whiteboard Doctor”. This shows that from one, yet to be peer reviewed, article, re infection in 20-60 days is most unlikely and mainly in unvaccinated persons. This guy has many really useful videos on Omicron. They are basically literature reviews. This one shows that in a review of 1.8 million Omicron and Delta infections in Denmark, only 0.1% approx. (only 18% of those were with Omicron – the rest being Delta reinfections) were reinfected within 20-60 days post original infection. Also that of those reinfected with Omicron, there were no hospitalisations or deaths. I hope that you find this useful.”
Lucky last – Australia. Australia has now risen to number 21 on the world rankings. Definitely not good. In the last report I forgot to mention the increase in cases in NSW over the previous seven days, beginning predictably a few days following the pitch invasion for the Significant Goal, was very obvious and therefore presumably not a coincidence. And in New South Wales and Victoria, the states with the biggest number of notifications every day – usually several thousand – the few remaining shreds of protective restrictions are about to be lifted. No more mask mandates, no more quarantine for close contacts, no more vaccination proof required … apparently because we are well vaccinated now. Well, as we are having more deaths daily now than two years ago (even if a lower proportion of cases), because we have so many cases, and because we will continue to have people working in high risk places continuing to take time off if they are case contacts (hospitals etc), I am not at all sure how this ‘taking personal responsibility’ approach is going to work. After all, it never has with flu in the past, and as people stopped wearing masks already on public transport anyway, I’m willing to bet it is not going to work.
Remember that in Australia a year ago we were not allowed to meet in groups of more than about 10, give or take, when we might have had a couple of dozen cases at most? Remember the rules about masks and social distancing? Remember when choirs, singing and dancing, were banned? Remember not being allowed to go to a theatre? Or swimming pool? Or gallery? Well how things have changed …
Here are the crowds at Shane Warne’s memorial event at the MCG.
The headline for this article is: ‘Australian Grand Prix allows Melbourne to set aside pandemic’:
View the article’s featured image here. Sadly those pale blue bits are not surgical masks.
All I can see are, depressingly, super-spreader events. Add to these the 1,000th (??) Goal in Sydney two weeks ago and it is really not surprising that case numbers have doubled over the past couple of weeks.
Remember what it was like only a year ago? Then it was not OK when one or two people died. Now we have a few dozen most days and no one seems to mind at all. Its all part of that great oxymoron, ‘COVIDSAFE’. Repeat, COVID is not safe. Neither is ‘flu. Or many other communicable diseases.
So for anyone who is still reading/listening here is a reminder:
|A POSITIVE TEST CLEARLY INDICATES AN INFECTION REGARDLESS OF WHETHER YOU HAPPEN TO HAVE SYMPTOMS OR NOT. AN INFECTED PERSON DEFINITELY CAN INFECT SOMEBODY ELSE.
This applies to both COVID, influenza, and several other droplet and airborne infections.
If you are a close contact of a confirmed case it is very possible that you are infectious but not yet showing symptoms or testing positive. You can infect somebody else before you become a confirmed case.
JUST ONE DROPLET IS ENOUGH TO TRANSMIT COVID TO ANOTHER PERSON.
RESTRICTIONS WILL BE LIFTED IN MOST OF AUSTRALIA FROM NEXT WEEKEND.
UNFORTUNATELY, VACCINATION IS NOT THE END OF THE STORY BECAUSE IT IS NOT 100% EFFECTIVE AT STOPPING DISEASE OR TRANSMISSION.
THE WHOLE PURPOSE OF ISOLATION/QUARANTINE WAS TO STOP IT BEING PASSED ON AGAIN.
PLEASE TAKE YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO KEEP A POTENTIAL INFECTION TO YOURSELF VERY SERIOUSLY.
This has nothing whatsoever to do with COVID, but for everyone, especially Vivaldi fans, this is for you to enjoy (and thank you MS): Goede Hoop Marimba Band play Vivaldi | Education Africa (and skip the ads!)
About Dr Priscilla Robinson and The CODE COVID-19 International Update
Dr Robinson is a public health epidemiologist with particular interests in international health and communicable diseases, and public health competencies. She has worked in health departments in England and Australia, has managed public health teaching programmes, and taught and researched many aspects of public health epidemiology and policy in many countries. She is an adjunct Associate Professor at LaTrobe University, and to stop herself being bored is an editor of PHAA’s journal ANZJPH, and holds board positions (almost all unpaid) on various NGOs, journals, and at her local hospital. Otherwise, 10 acres of untamed bushland on a hill in South Gippsland, VIC, makes weight-bearing gym exercise and strength training a bit redundant.
The CODE Update is a regular Intouch feature to keep readers informed of COVID-19 developments around the world.
The CODE Update originally began at the start of the SARS CoV-2 pandemic as Priscilla’s way of explaining to her friends and family around the world what was happening, and counter their experiences of information overload and misinformation. The update provides links to practical materials and papers written for people who are not versed in the language of outbreaks and epidemic curves. Published weekly, it includes a short commentary to provide context to the numbers included in the spreadsheets.
Note: While every attempt is made to transcribe all data faithfully, every now and again mistakes are made and not noticed until the next Update. Also, on occasion, numbers are revised after posting at the source databases.
We hope you will find these updates to be a helpful tool, and the links to current information useful.