Worldwide confirmed cases have now topped 300,000.
- China seems to have plateau’d at 81,000+ (but what happens when they remove the travel restrictions?)
- Italy in 2nd place now 53,578
- US in 3rd place: 26,747 (with 5x Italy’s population; hmmm, are they testing?)
- France: 14,485 (+6833 since March 18, av. 1708.25/day)
- UK 5,067 (+3113 since March 18, av. 778.25/day)
- Japan 1,055 (+182 since March 18, av. 45.5/day; hmmm, are THEY testing? Tokyo numbers: 130). See below. See also this colour-coded tracker map (added to sidebar) and the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare map).
- Taiwan: 153.
- Japan yet to reach its peak of COVID-19 infections, study shows (March 18)
- Japan’s COVID-19 infections much higher than reported, says NIID (March 7)
- Japan COVID-19 news updates
- Japan was expecting a coronavirus explosion. Where is it? (March 20)
- Why is Japan still a coronavirus outlier? (March 21)
- “despite discouraging checks on those who don’t have symptoms or contact with a carrier, the infection rate lies at 5.6 percent. That compares to around 3 percent in South Korea, but 18 percent in Italy” and ” “It is really difficult to identify every case, because so many infections are mild. Containment has been working in Hong Kong and Singapore by aggressive case-finding,” said Ben Cowling, an epidemiology professor at the University of Hong Kong. “I would expect a gradual increase in cases in Japan because of silent transmission in the community.” Japan was expecting a coronavirus explosion. Where is it? (March 20)
- Why is Japan posting such low numbers? Reasons to expect (much) higher numbers include:
- Close contact with China
- 38 million people in Tokyo alone, densely packed
- Italy has the oldest average age in Europe and 2nd in the world, but Japan in no.1!
- A common factor in the China deaths was smoking: In 2017, Japan had the highest rate of male smoking among the G7 nations.
- Possible reasons for the (so far) low numbers:
- Japan isn’t testing and hoping the resulting low numbers will allow the Tokyo Olympics to continue as planned; but is this a likely explanation? “But if the government’s testing regime is a failure, surely we’d see evidence of the disease’s spread in other ways. Its presence would appear not as positive test results but in the guise of an overwhelmed health care system and overcrowded mortuaries. We have seen no such evidence.”
- Good luck? People bow instead of shaking hands (well, in general); people wear masks when sick or to avoid contamination, air pollution; people already wash their hands a lot; and already high rates of isolation amongst the elderly
- “that Japan’s “just enough” efforts, built upon those pre-existing conditions have simply worked”: limited testing, early closure of mass events and schools, and spontaneous efforts by individuals and businesses.
- But… the 2-3 week containment period announced end of February has come to an end, and “hanami” (cherry-blossom-viewing) season is set to begin. Stay tuned.
It’s natural that people want to avoid catching this disease, and therefore travel as little as possible, stock up on food, etc. On top of that, there are various emergency measures being taken by governments in the countries and areas most heavily affected, e.g. UK (Coronavirus: Boris Johnson tells UK pubs and restaurants to shut in virus fight 🔴 @BBC News – BBC 21 March 2020). China’s numbers seem to have plateau’d, but what happens when the restrictions are lifted? Limiting people’s movements and interactions obvious temporarily limits the spread of the virus, but does not kill it. The only thing that will do that is when immunity tops 70% or so thereby severely limiting the potential hosts.
I repeat what seem to me the key points from the Imperial College report of March 16th, 2020:
Suppression: The good news: will require social distancing of the entire population + home isolation of cases + household quarantines + maybe school and university closures.
The bad news: “this will need to be maintained until a vaccine becomes available (18 months +) because transmission will quickly rebound if interventions are relaxed. “China and S Korea show that suppression is possible in the short term. It remains to be seen whether it is possible long-term.” Imperial College UK Covid-19 Response Team Report
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