What the stats say

4/9/2020

GHI reviews the latest Covid-19 data released by the World Health Organization, governments and aviation analysts over the past week. Which countries have seen a rapid rise in cases? Are there areas where the pandemic is starting to plateau and what does that tell us?

Contemplating the prospect of a second wave of coronavirus cases in China was the cliffhanger which we ended on in this column last week.

On face value, that dreaded double whammy of Covid-19 has failed to materialise (so far). Wuhan City’s lockdown is eased and those obtaining a green code on their smartphone health apps have been permitted to venture out for the first time in three months. China also reported its first day of no deaths from Covid-19 this week for the first time since figures were published. Overall, China’s curve of coronavirus new cases and reported deaths has flatlined since late February.

But forgive us for keeping the Bollinger on ice just now. The accuracy of official government figures in any authoritarian state have been somewhat questionable down the years. Cynicism remains that China isn’t providing the complete picture. The extent to which lockdown has been lifted in Wuhan City is also open to debate. An account from a resident in the city reported in The Guardian newspaper says cafes and bars remain shut, special permits are needed to travel to work and leaving your residence to exercise is still banned.

It’s a far cry from the UK where Britons descended on parks and beaches for barbecues and sun bathing last weekend despite an apparent lockdown. The flouting of official protocol provoked an angry warning from government ministers about stricter isolation measures.

What might shock those sun seekers into following the rule book is a look at a scientific study predicting the UK will end up with the worst Covid-19 death toll in Europe. The UK could suffer 66,000 deaths by August according to the Institute for Metrics and Evaluation. The UK’s ‘special relationship’ with the US appears to extend from politics into pandemics. Just across the pond, the US recorded the worst single daily death toll from coronavirus at 1,800. The US has nearly 13,000 deaths and has doubled its confirmed cases in week to nearly 400,000. The US is now the undisputed centre of the global pandemic.

Previous epicentre Italy is seeing glimmers of hope. Daily death tolls from Covid-19 have shown a steady decline from 889 on 28 March to 604 on 7 April. New cases have also shown a progressive decline from 5974 to 3039 over the same period. Spain echoes this slow recession of the virus. Should the tide continue to turn over the next week then we could at last be seeing some clear daylight at the end of a very long tunnel. 

Top 10 countries by confirmed cases of Covid-19
  1. US: 399,929 (1)
  2. Spain: 146,690 (3)
  3. Italy: 135,586 (2)
  4. France: 110,070 (4)
  5. Germany: 107,663 (7)
  6. China: 82,809 (4)
  7. Iran: 64,586 (7)
  8. UK:  55,957 (8)
  9. Turkey: 34,109 (new entry)
  10. Belgium: 23,403 (10)
Top 10 data source