What the stats say


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?

“I think we’re going to need more disinfectant, Mr President. The US has taken the unenviable crown of becoming the first country to pass one million Coronavirus cases. To put that into context, the States had just 55,225 incidents when this column launched just six weeks ago. President Trump after pondering the efficacy of injecting disinfectant to destroy coronavirus is responding by lining up a damages suit against China for an unspecified amount. Daily cases in the US have tapered slightly from 38,958 on 24 April to 25,409 on 28 April. If this is to be the first indication that the US has passed through the eye of the Covid-19 storm that would be a milestone in the world’s passage through the pandemic. Watch this space.

But a salutary note before we get too deep into the data. A Reuters investigation has revealed the inaccuracy of Covid-19 fatality figures being published by Indonesia. More than 2,200 Indonesians who had died from coronavirus symptoms were not recorded, the study found. There are lies, damn lies and statistics as Sir Charles Dilke once quipped.

Russia continues its rise up the top 10 countries by coronavirus cases to eighth this week. President Putin has extended lockdown measures to 11 May and warned worse is to come.

Better days are being heralded in Italy and Spain. Italy has alleviated its lockdown measures allowing parks and factories to reopen. It comes as the number of daily cases continues to decline from around 3,000 a week ago to the 2,000 mark this week. Spain is also passing down the stairwell in terms of new cases and fatalities.

That leaves the million dollar question: is there another set of stairs to climb –that dreaded second wave? China is our best test case at this point being the first country to have experienced the pandemic. New daily cases are reported in single figures this week vs five figure amounts in mid-February. Almost 50,000 high school students returned to school in Beijing this week, but the country has implemented a number of restrictive countermeasures to preclude a second wave. And then there are the doubts over the accuracy of the figures being reported.

Optimists will take heart from China nevertheless. But it will take evidence of similarly drastic reductions in fresh Covid-19 cases in Italy and Spain to convince the more cynical that we have the edge on the coronavirus even without a vaccine. Those countries are around a month behind China in the course of the virus.

The next month will be critical in mapping the course of the pandemic.

Top 10 countries by confirmed cases of Covid-19
  1. US: 1, 012,583 (1)
  2. Spain: 232,138 (2)
  3. Italy: 201,505 (3)
  4. France: 169,053 (4)
  5. UK: 162,350 (6)
  6. Germany: 159,912 (5)
  7. Turkey 114,653 (7)
  8. Russia:  93,558 (10)
  9. Iran: 92,584 (8)
  10. China: 83,940 (9)
Top 10 data source