In this week’s roundup, Brazil overtakes the US as the largest source of new COVID-19 cases, and over 40% of crew on the Al Kuwait ship have already tested positive. Government looks to ease continuous disclosure requirements for companies, as new data reveals regional Australia has been hit hardest by job losses. ‘False negative’ tests results may be very common, and COVID-19 may increase the risks of surgery.
World Summary – 30 May
- Confirmed cases leapt past six million, active cases neared three million and deaths passed 370,000.
- New cases accelerated but new deaths reduced – the pandemic’s locus has moved to countries with a younger age structure resulting in lower rates of death.
- 12 (+0) countries have outbreaks of 100,000+ and a further 40 (+4) countries have outbreaks of 10,000+.
- Brazil has overtaken the USA as the largest source of new cases. The two countries account for 40% of new cases. Russia and India follow. 13 countries reported new cases of over 10,000 and account for 78% of the reported new cases.
- Of the outbreaks over 10,000, Mexico’s is the fastest growing. Mexico, South Africa, Brazil and Panama all had average daily new case rates of 10% or more.
- The Central American mainland and Southern Africa are still the fastest growing regional outbreaks with growth rates of over 10%, dominated by Mexico and South Africa respectively. The South American outbreak maintained its pace. Daily growth rates in the massive North American and Western European outbreaks have slowed to less than 2%.
- Total deaths and the C.CFR are dominated by USA, UK, Italy, Brazil, France and Spain who account for 71% of deaths. UK, Spain, Italy and France have high CFRs (9%~15%). USA and Brazil have moderately high CFRs at 6%.
- 7% of those sampled in UK tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies, a measure of how many people have had the illness to date. 17% of Londoners may have been infected, and 5% elsewhere. Patient-facing healthcare workers, resident-facing social care workers and those working outside the home show higher rates of positive tests.
Australia Summary – 31 May
- Victoria 49 (-6) and WA had 25 (+25) both had a large number of new cases this week. IN both States these are largely due to localised outbreaks. 21 of the 48 crew members on the Al Kuwait ship off the coast of WA have now tested positive with a further 17 remaining in quarantine.
- Despite progressively easing restrictions, there is no evidence of increases in locally acquired new cases in any jurisdiction. Lower numbers of new cases were recorded in NSW had 13 (-3), Queensland had 2 (-3), and SA had 1 (+1). ACT, Tasmania and NT had no new cases.
- Nationally, daily tests averaged around 30,000 and the rate of positives continues under 0.05%.
- According to Citimapper’s mobility index (29 May), both Sydney and Melbourne are becoming steadily more mobile, with city movement increasing to 30% and 24% respectively of usual levels, up from their low of 10% in early April. Sydney is now the 8th and Melbourne the 13th most mobile cities of the 41 Citimapper track.
Key market updates
- ASIC, APRA and RBA appeared in front of the COVID-19 Senate Select Committee last week, which is examining Australia’s response to the pandemic. The resounding sentiment expressed was that, although the Australian financial system has responded well to the impact of COVID-19, there are many challenges ahead and continued vigilance will be needed to preserve financial and operational resilience. The RBA will maintain its expansionary settings until progress is made towards full employment and is confident that inflation will remain within the 2–3 per cent target band.
- APRA issued an article on APRA’s preparation and response to COVID-19.
- The FSC issued a media release on their COVID TPD claims initiative.
- The National Cabinet, formed in response to COVID-19, will replace the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) going forward, with the aim of improving communication and have a specific focus of creating jobs.
- National Cabinet rejected a proposal to make face masks compulsory on public transport, though Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy indicated it would not be unreasonable for people to do so voluntarily. It follows research last week showing face masks were 79% effective in stopping infection of close family members, but only during the pre-symptomatic period.
- The Morrison Government will temporarily amend the continuous disclosure provisions for companies and their officers to enable them to more confidently provide guidance to the market during the Coronavirus crisis.
- Rural & regional electorates in Australia have been hit harder by job losses, as have electorates with large tourism and hospitality industries, including the NSW mid & north coasts and the Queensland Sunshine Coast.
- KPMG launched their COVID-19 Financial reporting resource centre to help businesses better understand the potential accounting and reporting implications in the Australian environment, and the actions management can take now.
- PwC published a report on the nine forces of change that will shape the post COVID-19 recovery of Australia’s healthcare sector.
New COVID-19 research this week
- One in five COVID-19 tests may result in a false negative result – when a virus is not detected in a person who actually is False negatives are more likely when a person is first infected and toward the end of the infection, and averaged 38% on the day people first experienced symptoms.
- More than 140 scientists have signed an open letter questioning the validity of a study which showed hydroxychloroquine increases the risk of death from COVID-19. The debate continues, but is a salient reminder on the value of peer review and the need to check your data.
- The European CDC has published a 30-day forecast of the expected number of COVID-19 cases, deaths and hospitalisations in Europe, so countries can compare actual to expected as they lift lockdown restrictions.
- Guidance for estimating the prevalence of infected cases through RT-PCR testing on a random population sample was also released by the ECDC.
- The COVID-19 Actuaries Response Group estimates that mortality rates post-COVID may be slightly lower due to a relatively healthier population of survivors, but the effect is generally modest except in those groups hit hardest by COVID-19.
- SARS-CoV-2 increases the risk of mortality during surgery. The researchers recommend higher thresholds before deciding to undertake surgery, particularly in men aged 70 and older. Postponing non-urgent procedures and using non-operative treatment to delay the need for surgery should also be considered.
- There is no evidence to date that cancer treatment increases mortality in those with COVID-19, so researchers suggest that standard cancer care, including chemotherapy, should continue. COVID-19 patients in Wuhan who had cancer were more likely to deteriorate into severe illness than those without cancer, suggesting a need for closer monitoring.
New on the Actuaries Institute website this week.
- Actuaries Digital article: COVID-19 and Mental Health by Abbey Huang
- Actuaries Digital article: Seasonality and population Vitamin D levels are parameters for COVID-19 models by Brent Walker
- Pandemic Briefing: Impact of COVID-19 on PHI
CPD: Actuaries Institute Members can claim two CPD points for every hour of reading articles on Actuaries Digital.