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Crushing the Curve in Australia — “unknown source” covid cases trending down

NSW, New South Wales, Map, Australia.Australia remains the star Lucky Country compared to overseas. Infections are low, deaths are even lower. It’s all so much better than the desperate situation in Europe and the US. These are enviable, fantastically small numbers. Politicians are afraid to say so, lest the population relax, and party too much this Easter and the “unknowns” increase. (Which might well happen).

At the moment, the trend that matters most is the daily new cases of unknown transmission and it is trending down. There is community spread, but social isolation is shrinking it. This is what “Crushing the Curve” looks like. Right now there are still asymptomatic spreaders out there, but they are infecting less than one other person each (Ro < 1), so the infection is on its way to extinguishing itself — assuming we keep up the distancing.

But these great figures are not a reason to let up on social isolation, they’re a reason to go harder. We want to achieve the Golden Holy Grail — no new infections, and business as usual with no lockdowns, no curfews and a zone of freedom.

Australia is the Lucky Country, and doing the right thing

Why is the situation so good here:

  1. A giant nuclear ball cleans streets every day with infra red heat and UV sterilization.
  2. Indoor room temperature means viral survival time is lower, and thus less easily spread.
  3. The population is at its healthiest — close to annual peak levels of Vitamin D levels.
  4. We have a moat and borders have been shut.
  5. Social isolation is working. It’s easier in 4 bed 2 bath homes with gardens and a low population density.
  6. Deaths are lower because long distance travellers (the greatest source of infections) are a younger cohort — mainly 20 – 60 years old. Also possibly because there is less Vit D deficiency (see point 3). Though this will change with local spread and winter is coming.
Thank the sun: the north end of Australia is only 12 degrees from the equator, and the top of Tasmania is as far from the equator as is Rome (41°). So nearly the whole nation is effectively situated between Rome and the equator — with most of the big cities getting the same kind of sunlight as Athens to Jerusalem do.  Compared to the US — Tasmania stretches north of Salt Lake City or New York, but Darwin is “down” in Nicaragua. Most Australians in four of the five big capitals get about the same intensity sunlight as Los Angeles and Atlanta.

After the Hammer strikes a winning blow, we can start the Dance

The states with no sign of community transmission will soon be able to start a staged return to normal business, as long as they are testing widely, and as long as they strictly guard all borders and enforce two week lockdowns. Within weeks they could open up cafes and restaurants, gyms and sporting facilities. Wearing masks would be good insurance. Schools could open after that as long as the tests continue and no community spread is seen. Finally, large events would be the delayed — they may need to wait until the chance of cases coming across borders is very low. That may be months. Obviously international travel will be the last thing to return to normal. But as each state clears hurdles and becomes a clean zone, interstate travel with only those states can resume.

At all times though, we remain only one runaway infection from the start of a new exponential curve.


The whole nation is getting it under control:

Covid19data has the graphs. But not for Queensland. There doesn’t seem to be published data.

This is just what I was hoping for. But we must aim for extinction of this dangerous rogue code.

In Australia most quarantine and isolation rules were brought in from March 11 to 21, and 12 days later the curve slows. Most cases in Australia are in NSW (navy blue/black).

Australian, Covid Cases, graph, April 10, 2020.

Australian, Covid Cases, April 10, 2020.

In NSW notice the decline in community spread (orange segments, below).

This is excellent news. NSW needs to work on shrinking the spread from known cases, but the current measures appear to be slowing the spread from healthy carriers. The light blue transmission segments below show “Known Local transmission” — meaning probably from people just before or after they got symptoms and got tested. We need to get better at testing and isolating these cases faster. Symptomatic people likely shed more virus than asymptomatic people do.

Australian, Covid Cases, graph, April 10, 2020.

NSW Australian, Covid Cases, April 10, 2020.


It would make sense to close the ACT from NSW (or probably to close the rest of NSW off from Sydney, depending on regional test results). If people in the ACT understood this, they would be lobbying to do that so they could restart things sooner.

No untraceable cases at all. Remarkable.

Australian, Covid Cases, graph, April 10, 2020.

ACT Australian, Covid Cases, graph, April 10, 2020.

In Victoria

Hopefully the latest blip in local transmission (light blue) can be crushed asap. But there are good signs that untraceable community spread is shrinking in Victoria (orange).

Australian, Covid Cases, graph, April 10, 2020.

Victoria, Australia, Covid Cases, April 10, 2020.

Western Australia

In WA there is not as much detail. There are a few new cases of unknown transmission still ticking over (2 new “not traced yet” cases last night to add to this graph). The state has only just started testing anyone with fever, and has the second highest rate of positive tests in the nation (see below) suggesting that it needs to do more testing. No champagne yet. There are now 506 known cases — with 11 new ones overnight, nine of which were from cruise ships.

Because WA has regional quarantines, sections of the state could be reopened sooner. The price is roadblocks but the payoff is freedom within the region. The health minister said “he didn’t think it was going to be possible to eradicate the disease. “What we want to do is control it”. It’s not clear why he thinks we can’t exterminate this.

Australian, Covid Cases, graph, April 10, 2020.

Western Australian, Covid Cases, April 10, 2020.

South Australia

In SA there appear to be 4 – 7 cases “under investigation” — which must be “unknown”. It would be good to get more specific reporting. But only three new cases in the entire state have been found in the last two days. That’s got to be good.

South Australia also appears to be doing enough testing.

Australian, Covid Cases, graph, April 10, 2020.

South Australian, Covid Cases,  April 10, 2020.


Tasmania is hard to analyze. It isn’t doing enough testing. There is still a recent rise in known cases and four days ago, a spate of ten or so unknown cases.

Australian, Covid Cases, graph, April 10, 2020.

Australian, Covid Cases, graph, April 10, 2020.

The Northern Territory

No one can complain about this! The NT looks great  and (see below) appears to be doing enough testing too. It’s been saved by lower incomes — not so many people could afford to fly to Aspen or London in the last two months.

Australian, Covid Cases, graph, April 10, 2020.

Australian, Covid Cases, graph, April 10, 2020.

Testing – WA Tasmania and Victoria all need to do more

But vear in mind the WHO suggests that in countries with extensive testing only 10-12% are coming back positive.

Compared to that, Australia is only returning 2% positive in the worst case.

Covid cases, Australia, testing. Graph.

Tests per capita for covid-19 cases

WA and Tasmania are not doing enough testing and showing a higher positive rate per test.

NSW shows a high rate but is testing more people per capita. The most reliable results are from South Australia.

Covid cases, Australia, testing. Graph.

The rate of positive testing for covid-19 cases

Deaths are lower because Australians with coronavirus are younger

Demographics show that Australians who have been infected are predominantly in the 20 – 70 age group. As local transmission takes over from those who caught it on arduous long distance flights — we will see death rates increase due to the spread among the 70 – 100 age cohort.

Australian, Covid Cases, graph, April 10, 2020.

Australian, Covid Cases, graph, April 10, 2020.

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