COVID-19 Weekly Roundup 18 May 2020

As restrictions ease nationally, we take a look at updates from Australia that include new cases, economic forecasts and mental health support. This update also covers global statistics and new research as the virus continues to be studied.


World Summary – 16 May

  • USA has 32% of global confirmed cases but their share of new cases has fallen substantially. USA still dominates active cases, at 42%. Forecasts suggest US deaths will exceed 100,000 by 1 June and 145,000 by 1 August.
  • Nine other countries have outbreaks of 100,000+ and a further 36 (+4) countries have outbreaks of 10,000+ including both South Africa and Egypt.
  • Of the outbreaks over 10,000, Mexico’s is the fastest growing. Mexico, Kuwait, South Africa, Chile, Iran and Brazil all had growth in new cases of 10% or more a day.
  • Russia’s outbreak at 272,000 has slowed but they are expected to overtake Spain to become the 2nd largest outbreak tomorrow. Brazil will also overtake UK and Spain to become the 3rd largest outbreak this week.
  • Growth in active cases is slowing, with new recoveries rising to nearly 70% of new cases. The massive North American and Western European outbreaks have daily growth rates of 2% and Western Europe+Scandinavia is now only the 4th largest source of new cases.
  • Total deaths and the C.CFR are dominated by USA, UK, Italy, Spain and France, who account for 68% of deaths and have relatively high CFRs.


Australia Summary – 17 May

  • Weekly new cases were dominated by Victoria’s 79 (-27) new cases. NSW had 23 (-4) WA 5 (+5), Queensland 2 (-10), Tasmania 1 (-1) and SA, ACT and NT had no new cases. The WA experience points to the difficulty of locating and containing all infections.
  • Nationally, tests per day exceeded 30,000 on most days, with less than 0.05% positive.
  • Infections are reasonably uniform across ages other than for the under 10’s, but the median age of deaths (where age has been reported) is in the 80s.
  • There have been more than 5.7 million downloads of the COVIDSafe app.


Key updates

  • Coronavirus restrictions are being eased in many States across Australia, with strong reminders of the importance of continued adherence to social distancing measures.
  • April’s Unemployment figures increased from 5.2% to 2%, total hours worked reduced by 9.2%, and underemployment rose to a record high of 13.7%. Women are over-represented in the unemployment figures.
  • Treasury forecast a 10% fall in GDP in the June quarter.
  • NSW Parliament passed three emergency bills in response to COVID-19, including changes to workers’ compensation so that frontline workers who catch COVID-19 will have their infections deemed as occurring in the course of their employment.
  • The Government announced a six month deferral of commitments associated with the Hayne Royal Commission recommendations, due to COVID-19. ASIC announced delays in implementation of mortgage broker reforms and design and distribution obligations as a result.
  • ASIC has extended financial reporting deadlines by one month, and outlined its expectations for market participants to act appropriately in maintaining equity market resilience.
  • APRA has published its second week of industry level data for the Superannuation Early Release Scheme, including fund-level data.
  • An additional commitment of $48m for Mental Health was announced on Friday, which will be allocated to research, outreach to vulnerable communities, communication and other outreach programs.


New research this week

  • There is emerging evidence of that COVID-19 is causing Kawasaki-like symptoms in children. Research from Italy has found a 30-fold increased incidence of Kawasaki-like disease in children in the past month.
  • Statistics from the UK and the US indicate that black and minority patients are significantly over-represented in COVID-19 deaths. In the UK, black people were more than four times likely to die of COVID-19 than white patients, and almost twice as likely after taking into account differences in age and other socio-demographic factors.
  • The largest study of patient data to date confirmed these results and identified several other groups with increased risk of death: people from deprived social backgrounds, of older ages, with uncontrolled diabetes or severe asthma, and men.
  • Initial estimates suggest deaths due to all causes would be far higher in Australia without the lockdown measures. Some causes of death will increase this year – modelling by the University of Sydney suggests there may be a 25% increase in suicides this year as a result of Australia’s lockdown.  However, some will decline – cardiovascular deaths in particular have declined in previous economic downturns.
  • Research examining the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic in America showed cities with the tightest lockdown restrictions fared best, not just in terms of fewer deaths, but also in terms of a more rapid economic recovery.
  • A paper by UK actuaries debunks the myth that most of the COVID-19 deaths in UK are in older people who would have died soon anyway. The weekly UK CMI (Continuous Mortality Investigation) report found that there could have been 56,000 to 63,000 excess registered deaths in the UK by 11 May 2020.


New on the Actuaries Institute website this week. 

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