The Coronavirus is now called Covid-19 but it is the generic name coronavirus by which the world now knows this new disease.
It was declared a pandemic by the Australian Government on February 27, 2020. The label pandemic, denotes not severity but ease of spread, with 60 countries now reporting cases.
Concerns notched up in Australia when we had our first transmissions of people who had not travelled overseas recently, so their cases were acquired in this community. Naturally, this increases anxiety because now instead of the disease only being associated with people who have travelled in very distinct overseas places, it could come from anywhere in our own community.
As more accurate information comes to hand about numbers of cases, the mortality rate from the disease has increased. Initially described as having a two per cent death rate for all infections, this was revised upwards to 3.4 per cent, by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on March 4.
By late on March 4, there had been at least 93,000 cases worldwide, according to WHO. There had been at least 3,100 deaths, by that time according to WHO. In Australia, 40 cases had been reported by March 4.
This needs to be put into context:
- While influenza ‘the flu’ currently has a lower death rate than coronavirus – of about 1.3 per cent – it is currently a much more common disease.
- According to the Influenza Specialist Group, in Australia, influenza on average causes 3,500 deaths, about 18,000 hospitalisations and 300,000 GP consultations each year. For more on this go to: http://www.isg.org.au/index.php/clinical-information/influenza-fast-facts-/
- The US President, Donald Trump, was recently surprised to discover just how savage the flu is. The US Centre for Diseases Control estimates that in America influenza has resulted in between 9 million – 45 million illnesses, between 140,00 – 810,000 hospitalisations and between 12,000 – 61,000 deaths annually, since 2010.
- Through mid-January, zero children in Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak, had contracted Covid-19, according to Stat news. This pattern continues to date with no deaths reported in anyone under the age of nine. To follow Stat News updates, go to: https://www.statnews.com/2020/03/03/who-is-getting-sick-and-how-sick-a-breakdown-of-coronavirus-risk-by-demographic-factors/
- “The fatality rate of the novel coronavirus so far appears to be a fraction of that of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) 9.6%,” according to Quentin Fottrell of Marketwatch. He follows the disease trends for financial analysis purposes. His discussion can be found at: https://www.marketwatch.com/story/coronavirus-fatality-rates-vary-wildly-depending-on-age-gender-and-medical-history-some-patients-fare-much-worse-than-others-2020-02-26