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The world watches Australia and NZ tracking to zero — can we extinguish Coronavirus?

Posted By Jo Nova On April 25, 2020 @ 5:30 am In Microbiology | Comments Disabled

Soon after isolation began, Australian and New Zealand cases started to fall as fast as they rose

This is what Crushing the Curve looks like, and if works it will set the new standard, and change the way the rest of the world views this.  It isn’t over yet, but still – something is working and the international press has just started to get excited.

Be aware the figures may jump next week, as testing in NSW has ramped up and everyone can now get a free test. But testing is already high per capita, with a very low positive test rates. (12,000 tests done in Australia yesterday and 99.8% were negative).

Australia has 25 million people and found just 18 new cases yesterday. New Zealand with 5 million people, got five new cases.  Obviously these numbers look great from the US and UK where 700 people are dying every day.

Daily Mail, UK:

Australia is steamrolling the curve!

[The] Nation records just 17 cases in one day – including three states with ZERO infections – as the country’s road to ending lockdown is revealed

New York Times:

“Vanquish the Virus? Australia and New Zealand Aim to Show the Way”

Both nations are now reporting just a handful of new infections each day, down from hundreds in March, and they are converging toward an extraordinary goal: completely eliminating the virus from their island nations.

This is my kind of man:

Dr. Michael Baker, a physician and professor at the University of Otago in Wellington, became a prominent voice outside the government pushing for elimination of the virus, not just its suppression.

He argued that New Zealand, an island nation with a limited number of cases, should think of the virus more like measles than influenza — something that should be made to disappear, with rare exceptions.

One man like this may have saved thousands of lives. In other nations a random pick of the loudest expert in the room may have produced an expert fan of the dreadful herd-immunity plans. Great leaders must take the blame for not picking the right expert, but some leaders got a head start.

Then what? Keep the borders, clean each state, open accordingly…

Read Crush the Curve, nothing has changed. We use hard borders to keep the virus out until there is a treatment or vaccine or the virus learns to act nicely. Given that billions of dollars and lives are on the line, with satellites and ships it can be done. Viruses can’t fly by themselves. People can still come to Australia and leave, but temporarily (for a few months or a couple of years) all flights inbound need a two week quarantine.Unless, of course, the other nation is Virus-Free too!

Australia is already talking to New Zealand about reconnecting flights at some point. Fantastic.

With hard state borders, Australia can open in sections. The NT (see below) is there already. Schools are opening.  In the giant state of WA, there are smaller sub regions with hard borders. That means rural areas might not have to wait for the big cities to open up their local economy.

These virus-free “clean zones” will grow and the infected zones will shrink. And as I keep saying, we will beat this, every biotech lab in the world is looking and there are so many options and so much money to fuel research. We don’t have to have a vaccine — we can solve this with monoclonal antibodies, with CRISPR, RNAi, stem cells, anti-virals (and other anti-virals, and so many options — even maybe sheep drench).

State by State

NSW — The largest outbreak in Australia has shrunk almost as fast as the other states

A shrinking exponential curve can shrink exponentially fast. Even though NSW needs a different scale graph to all the other states, it is now also recording very low numbers. In the last five days, 6, 6, 5, 5, 7. Next week with more testing, that may change.

NSW, State Covid-19 cases, Australia, April 2020

NSW, State Covid-19 cases, Australia, April 2020

Victoria — New cases in the last 5 days: 1, 7,  2, 1,  6.


VIC, State Covid-19 cases, Australia, April 2020

VIC, State Covid-19 cases, Australia, April 2020

QLD – new cases in the last 5 days 0,6,0,2,2.

QLD, State Covid-19 cases, Australia, April 2020

QLD, State Covid-19 cases, Australia, April 2020

WA: New daily cases 0,1,0,0,2

To know when the (hopefully) last cases will be identified, we have to look at individual case transmission. The last two new cases are so far listed as known local, and unknown. Hopefully they will find the outbreak. There have been four new “unknown” source cases in the last two weeks in WA, suggesting that there is some asymptomatic spread going on, and the state needs to do more testing.

This graph may not be as impressive as it looks.

WA, State Covid-19 cases, Australia, April 2020

WA, State Covid-19 cases, Australia, April 2020

SA, New daily cases 0, 2, 1, 0, 0.

The big question is how long with the stragglers straggle on for? Can we zap them before winter?

SA, State Covid-19 cases, Australia, April 2020

SA, State Covid-19 cases, Australia, April 2020

The ACT (Australian Capital Territory)

Things are looking good, but after 6 days straight with no cases there were  2 single cases in the last five days.

Borders between NSW and the ACT are still open.


ACT, State Covid-19 cases, Australia, April 2020

ACT, State Covid-19 cases, Australia, April 2020

Tasmania has already had a cluster outbreak that was bigger than the first wave

It shows how easily one mistake, one cluster can get out of hand. Health workers picked up a case, likely from a Ruby Princess patient. More than 70 health workers became infected, two hospitals were closed and up to 5000 people had to be quarantined. 

And this was in a regional area with a lower population.

This is why it is not worth trying to live with this virus if extinguishing it a realistic option.

TAS, State Covid-19 cases, Australia, April 2020

TAS, State Covid-19 cases, Australia, April 2020

Northern Territory  — how long before we declare the NT to be free of coronavirus?

After two weeks with no new cases, and no known local community spread, the NT will surely be one of the first regions in the world to extinguish the virus. Given state borders are closed, it is only sensible to ease up on restrictions which has started to happen. NT children have already returned to school.

Is it possible there still may be some cases sneaking asymptomatically through the local population?

NT, State Covid-19 cases, Australia, April 2020

NT, State Covid-19 cases, Australia, April 2020

In Australia, the demographics show a younger spread

Death rates are lower — probably because covid-19 hasn’t romped through nursing homes and the 80+ generation. Instead, in Australia the infection spread through a young and middle aged group and not in the 80+ super high risk category. This may be due to infections coming from Chinese students, who mix with other students, and not their Grandparents. And that other infections came from people on long haul flights from the US, Europe and Iran. Even in the Cruise ship category, the average age of the Diamond Princess was 58, not 85.

Australian Testing per capita is as good as other leading nations

Given that the case load is so low, this means the number of positive results per test in Australia must be one of the lowest in the world.

Australia conducted 12,000 tests on the 22 April to find 20 cases announced on the 23rd. That’s just 0.16% positive.

National testing rates Covid-19 cases, Australia, US, Italy,  April 2020

National Testing for Covid-19 cases, Australia, April 2020


There must be lessons here

While NZ has done a tougher lockdown “Alert Level 4″, Australia’s was not as severe. Many workplaces stayed operating. The fast isolation successes are amplified by climate and geography. It may also be the large compliance rates, and not such a toxic politicization.

Good things include:

  • Warmer weather which degrades viruses faster indoors and out. (In Australia, parked cars get sterilized every day in February.)
  • UV radiation which destroys germs (and helps generate Vitamin D).
  • At the end of summer not as many people are vitamin D deficient. Their immune systems have a chance.
  • Big houses and a low population density means home lockdowns have more “social distance”.
  • Lots of cars, which means less public transport (greens are going to hate this virus).
  • Early action. New Zealand may have started earlier than most nations (every day matters). Perhaps Australia did. Both were too late to stop a trillion dollar loss. So no Gold Stars.

Hopefully our Northern friends can follow this (or parts thereof) as their summer comes (and hopefully we don’t fall off the cart).

It’s possible that nastier mutations arose in Italy and New York, in which case the back-patting may be more lucky than anything, but Australia did fly in virus samples to infect ourselves from Rome, Milan, Iran, London, Indonesia, Cuba and California. If there were nasty strains anywhere in the world, in early March, we did our best to get them.

Neither country used masks (correct me if I’m wrong New Zealanders). This was silly, as it would have sped things up. But we barely had enough for the Doctors. So the experts told everyone they didn’t work, and could they send their spares to St Vincents Hospital in Sydney.

The Australian-NZ solutions are not the answer for everywhere (especially in large cities in cold lands with high rise apartments) but they are a few more datapoints than we had two months ago. And there’s hope…

Dedicated to the ANZACS who paid the price so we can live free.

Commenters, please read carefully before asking the same old, same old. Let’s try to be constructive.

The most important posts:


Coronavirus Background: ☀ The Demographics: the young are spared, but the severity increases with age, and slightly more for men than women. ☀ How Coronavirus kills: why the number of ICU units matters so much. ☀. ☀ ☀ Proof that viruses don’t have wings and we should have stopped all flights so much earlier. ☀ The story of how American Samoa avoided Flu Deaths with quarantine in 1918. ☀ The story of Vo, the Italian town that stopped the virus. ☀ Delay = Death, statistics show mortality rates rise tenfold if hospitals are overwhelmed. ☀

Economics: ☀ The huge impact on the Chinese economy, the awful case of Iran.☀

Beware UN advice:Ethiopian WHO chief was part of China’s debt trap diplomacy ☀

Stats and Data: John Hopkins Live Map Worldometer Coronavirus data in Australia


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