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Coronavirus statistics – trying to track the real numbers

Samui Times Editor

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Coronavirus statistics – trying to track the real numbers | Samui Times
PHOTO:Worldometers.com
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Are we being deceived? And why?

Half a million new cases revealed today, along with more than 24,000 recorded deaths, as authorities around the world struggle to contain the Covid-19 Virus.

Today alone, there are more than 532,000 active cases with numbers still raising more swiftly than ever before. Just two days ago, 60,000 more cases had been confirmed.

The USA has now surpassed China with a total of 81,285 cases identified. Italy is following not too far behind as officials predict they will also pass China’s total cases later today.

But the question stands….

Why are the statistics so inconstant? Why are the reported death rates so varied around the globe?

The problem seems to be, in the majority of cases, the statistics have shown to be a valuable resource and guide yet seem to imply a different truth. With the death rate in Italy being 11%, you can’t help but wonder why is this rate so high, when the death rate in Germany and South Korea is below 1%.

So why has the UK got comparatively fewer cases than all its neighbouring countries in Europe? Then you have Russia, who has seemingly been able to contain the virus with less recorded cases.

The online maps available all feed off the same databases and are only as accurate as the information that is being fed to them. Although all the statistics are there, Nothing seems to match up with a reasonable cause.

Coronavirus statistics - trying to track the real numbers | News by Samui Times

John Hopkins University Covid-19 map

Epidemiologists are warning, all nations have different reporting standards, different testing protocols, different capacities to trace new cases and different attitudes to reporting cases to the public. Those differences can also be mixed in just one country, with differences across states, provinces or districts.

What is the standard of testing? What test result signals a ‘new case’? Throughout this pandemic, there seems to be so many questions unanswered, too many rocks unturned.

The UK government says the national health system doesn’t currently have the capacity to test everyone who has Covid-19 symptoms. So only patients sick enough to require hospital treatment are getting tested”, according to the UK government.

The relatively low number of tests done in the UK explains why the active case numbers appear so much lower when compared to other European countries. This shows, It doesn’t necessarily mean fewer people are actually sick, just that fewer people are being tested.

In Germany, The death rate has remained around 6%. Anyone who has shows “flu-like symptoms” and has travelled to a high-risk region, or come into contact with a confirmed case in the past 14 days, gets tested. There have been up to 44,000 reported cases today.

In South Korea, where there was an early outbreak of Covid-19, access to testing is free and available for anyone who a doctor thinks needs it. South Korean medical authorities jumped on the early spread and have been actively tracing the contacts of infected patients. The early containment, transparent reporting and easy testing protocols have allowed the country to only end up with 131 deaths, despite having 9,241 cases.

Internationally, the comparisons rely on a mixture of different sources. The graphic maps, which are the go-to resource for the media and real experts, pull in data from the World Health Organisation, the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and China’s national health commission. There are other internal medical sources that contribute to the daily stats.

Whilst the numbers and graphs can provide an overall picture, and trends, frontline scientists spend a lot of time looking at the epidemic curve, that the shape of the graph that captures the total number of new cases in each country day by day.

“If different nations have different standards and conditions, they at least generate a consistent curve if those standards and conditions are stable across time.”

“If the UK suddenly starts testing many more people and sees a big jump in new cases, it doesn’t necessarily mean the epidemic is spreading faster. Similarly, if a country runs out of tests, it may suddenly report a misleading drop in new cases.”

Accurate information is important to defeat the virus, people need to be willing to comply with strict restrictions and officials need facts to guide their decisions. Scientists say the only way to defeat the virus is through social distancing, which requires citizens to drastically alter their way of life.

On January 25, 2020, when there were only a total of 2,105 cases, almost all in China at that stage, the Chinese Government embarked on a massive social experiment, recommended by their epidemic experts, to lockdown 930 million people. A REAL lockdown – “go to your homes and stay there!”

At this moment, the draconian measures appear to have worked to control the spread of Covid-19 in a country of nearly 1.4 billion. To convince people to obey rules about isolation, the world’s politicians need to make a convincing case that the situation is serious enough to convince such sacrifices.

The only effective social distancing is to completely lock yourself away from other people with ‘social distancing’, as practised inside China. You can ask people to stay in their homes but this ends up with a backlash of panic buying, forcing thousands to crowd together in supermarkets.

In Thailand the government has told foreigners they have to assemble paperwork and visit their local immigration department to get visa extensions, causing long, crowded queues of people scrambling and desperate to stay ‘legal’. The reality is they’re just a congregation of potential virus spreaders.

No two countries are alike when it comes to access to their healthcare standards, testing availability and medical resources. There is also a huge variation in the populations’ underlying health conditions and age demographics.

The key is to maintain proper social distancing standards to ensure you don’t become just another number on a graph. You can watch the daily statistics, but understand they are only a guide and don’t show the true vastness of the spread, especially those who are infected but yet to be tested due to lack of resources and funding.

SOURCE: The Thaiger

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