The Dept of Health & Human Services [VIC] publishes Covid-19 case data, but it’s not wildly accessible. There are no graphs or charts, and the breakdown of infections – i.e. the source of the infections – is only available on the day of the media release. In other words, it’s buried.
I don’t know whether this is a deliberate attempt not to ‘worry’ people, or simply typical DHHS bureaucracy. Either way, the messaging is not getting out there, so I trawled through the data and created a simple Excel spreadsheet.
First up, the raw data for MAY, 2020:
Next, the raw data for JUNE, 2020:
As you can see, I wanted to show the source of the infections, but gave up when the data was too hard to find. Apologies, but I do have a life.
Now for some charts from that data. The first one is a line graph showing the ups and downs of infections [in Victoria] for all of May and June.
This chart gives a decent overview, but the data is squashed up because you can’t fit almost 60 days onto a small chart. Despite this, you can clearly see three things:
- Victoria only had two days on which we recorded zero new cases: June 6 and June 9.
- Victoria never really got rid of the virus. That was why Premier Dan Andrews resisted Scott Morrison’s push to reopen as quickly as possible. Sadly, he didn’t resist enough. Or Scott Morrison proved to be a bigger bully than expected.
- Apart from a few small dips, new cases in Victoria have been rising steadily since June 9. This is in stark contrast to May. In May, new cases fluctuated up and down, but the overall trajectory was down. In other words, the lockdown was working.
The next two graphs show this more clearly. The first is for May:
The second graph is for June:
What’s even more worrying than that upward trajectory for June is that the number of new cases has doubled in just four days – i.e from 20 on June 24 to 41 on June 27.
All up, we’ve had 10 consecutive days of double digit new cases. 10 days in a row. And in the latest news, a nurse working at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, one of the biggest in Melbourne, has tested positive for Covid-19.
Scott Morrison may believe that we can control this virus, but that is pure, arrogant bullshit. The numbers don’t lie. We can’t ‘control’ this virus any more than we could control the bushfires that devastated two states just a few months ago. Remember them? Remember how good Scomo was at ‘fixing’ the inferno? Yes, I thought so.
The truth is that nothing has really changed [for the better] since we originally went into lockdown:
- Despite all the hype about the contact tracing app, I’ve heard nothing new about it since it was revealed that it doesn’t work that well with iPhones.
- We have some more intensive care units, and more medical personnel trained to use them, but overseas data has shown that even the most sophisticated health care system can be overwhelmed when the virus surges out of control.
- We have more PPE [personal protective equipment], but I don’t know whether we have enough for medical personnel in a surge. Pretty sure we don’t have enough for medical personnel and the general public if shit hits the fan.
So where exactly is Australia’s magic bullet supposed to come from?
One option that does work is the mandatory wearing of masks in public – to protect us from those who are infected but don’t know they are. Masks stop them from breathing on us.
South East Asian countries, like Thailand, that have mandated the wearing of masks have almost ridiculously low infection rates. Here is Oz, however, people still give you funny looks if you wear a mask in public, so I guess masks are a no-go.
So what else is there?
Well, there is testing. If there were random, compulsory testing [like in booze buses] we’d get a much better idea of how many asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic spreaders there are, but it seems that testing is a) voluntary and b) mostly looking for people who are already sick. People who fear they may be forced into self-quarantine for 14 days are refusing to be tested. The irony is that they could well be the very people we most need to test.
When it comes to therapeutics, there are a couple of existing drugs that have an anti-inflammatory effect and may reduce the number of covid-19 deaths, but they’re still largely untested.
And that’s about it. Short of another draconian lockdown, we don’t really have any effective way of controlling the virus, which leads me to think that our success the first time around was due more to luck than good management. Sadly, I fear that our reopening won’t be as lucky because the ‘stages’ are based on the idea that all of us will ‘do the right thing’. Yeah, right. -facepalm-
The reality is that the messaging has been wrong from the start. People were told that they wouldn’t be badly affected by the virus, so now all they can see is that they’ve been made poor, bored and unhappy just to save a few oldies who were going to die anyway. ‘Eff that… Little wonder then that when the leash is loosened there’s a rush of me,me,me behaviour.
If our leaders really had wanted to reopen ‘safely’, they should have started with an education campaign that focused on the reality of the virus and what it does to people. Then they should have made any reopening, no matter how minor, contingent on the lack of new cases. Clear rules with clear targets.
Finally, they should have made it very clear that the instant people stop obeying the rules, the whole town/state/country will go back to lockdown. And when the inevitable happened [like toddlers pushing the boundaries], the consequences should have been followed through. Again, clear rules and clear consequences.
Instead, we’ve had a wishy-washy ‘plan’, mixed messages all over the place, and media showing how hard it is to live with the lockdown instead of how hard it is to die of the virus… And yes, ABC and Ita Buttrose, I’m looking at you. Since when did the people’s ABC pander to the likes of Scott Morrison?
To be honest, I think we should have had another Grim Reaper campaign:
Right at the end, the voice over says ‘Prevention is the only cure we’ve got’. Sounds familiar, don’t you think?
There’s been a lot of controversy about the Grim Reaper strategy, but the truth is it worked. It made us aware of both the danger and what we had to do to stay alive.
Overkill? I don’t know. If we act like toddlers, shouldn’t we be treated like toddlers?
Sadly, none of the possibilities I’ve outlined have actually happened. We had a poorly organised, draconian lockdown that resulted in massive queues outside every Centrelink office in the country. And we’ve had big chunks of society thrown under the economic bus, but in terms of ‘management’, that’s about it. Now, I fear we’re having a reopening that’s being ‘managed’ as well as you’d expect.
We could have reopened safely, but Scott Morrison didn’t do a single thing to make a safe reopening possible. He just laid out his ‘plan’ and expected everyone to make it happen. Yeah, the smirk may be gone but #ScottyFromMarketing still knows bugger all about human nature.
Buckle up for stage two my fellow Victorians. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.