COVID-19 Monday Roundup 15 June 2020

Flu cases in Australia have plummeted since lockdown, with some predicting fewer flu deaths this year. But mental health problems are at least twice as prevalent. Regulators are warning cybersecurity needs to be a priority for everyone, after a 25% increase in cyber attacks. And while Australia has effectively eliminated the spread of COVID-19 in some areas, the epidemic continues to grow apace in the US, Brazil, Russia and now India.



World Summary – 13 June

  • The USA remains the largest outbreak with over two million cases, while Brazil’s will pass one million this week. Russia is third while India has now overtaken the UK to move to 4th. These four countries had the highest numbers of reported new cases this week, accounting for over half of all new cases globally.
  • 16 (+2, Saudi, Pakistan ) countries have outbreaks of 100,000+ and a further 43 (+2, Ghana, Moldova) countries have outbreaks of 10,000+.
  • Of outbreaks over 10,000, Mexico’s is the fastest growing. Mexico, Chile, Iraq, Serbia, South Africa, Saudi, Panama all had average daily new case rates of 10% or more.
  • China has experienced an outbreak in Beijing, prompting fears of a second wave. Sweden’s ‘voluntary’ strategies to minimise virus spread have been called into question after announcing its highest daily tally (1,471) of infections on Thursday.
  • Total deaths and the C.CFR are dominated by USA, Brazil, UK, Italy, France, Spain and Mexico who account for 69% of deaths. The USA alone accounts for 27% of deaths.


Australia Summary – 14 June

  • New cases increased slightly this week, and concerns remain that last weekend’s mass rallies may result in higher cases in coming weeks.
  • Net 25 cases were overseas acquired. Net 21 were locally acquired from a known source. Net zero were locally acquired from an unknown source. 17 are under investigation.
  • Weekly new cases were dominated by Victoria’s 35 (-1) and NSW’s 24 (+9) new cases. Queensland had 3 (+1+), WA had 1 (-6). SA, ACT, Tasmania  and  NT had no new cases.  With no new cases in SA, Tasmania and the NT for more than two weeks, Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy says we may have “effectively achieved elimination” in many parts of the country.


Key market updates

  • The National Cabinet provided a further update on easing restrictions, including changes to the 100 person limit on indoor gatherings, outdoor gathering restrictions, and discussions to start piloting the return of international students.
  • ASIC’s Interim Corporate Plan for 2020-21, sets out its priorities to tackle the challenges resulting from COVID-19 and revisions to their timetable of ongoing work. Priorities include assisting insurance customers who experience hardship and facilitating advice for those seeking early access to their superannuation.
  • Business Interruption insurance continues to get significant attention. The FCA (UK regulator) are arguing a test case to help resolve disputes, that policies with distance restrictions should be triggered. In Australia, where a key area of dispute has been around exclusion wording being kept up to date with legislation, AFCA have confirmed that they are considering a test case.
  • The ACCC has released draft authorisation that it will permit insurers to continue co-ordinating on SME hardship assistance packages until the end of the year, in recognition that many businesses continue to face unprecedented hardship.
  • Swiss Re’s annual SONAR report into emerging risks proposes that the COVID-19 pandemic highlights the importance of not relying solely on historical data in preparing for future threats.
  • Fraud, corruption scams and cyber attacks remain topical. Ransomware cyber attacks increased 25% worldwide in the first quarter of this year. ASIC issued a scam alert warning of false endorsements. KPMG and Deloitte offer insights to help organisations maintain a higher level of security and compliance.
  • Taylor Fry has released itsCOVID-19 Financial Impact Index which shows the suburbs which have experienced the most significant reductions in income relative to baseline expenditure. They include suburbs with high numbers of white-collar professionals and hospitality workers, and low numbers of retirees and recipients of government income support.


New COVID-19 research this week

  • Data from the Immunisation Coalition shows flu deaths may decline in Australia this year. Reported cases have plummeted since lockdowns were introduced, from 20,032 between January and March, to just 504 in April and May.
  • Mental health problems are at least twice as prevalent as before the pandemic according to a survey of 14,000 Australians. People most affected had lost jobs, lived alone or in poorly-resourced areas, were caring for dependent family members, members of marginalised minorities, women or young.
  • A survey found almost 20% of Australians drank more under lockdown than usual. This was particularly the case for women with child caring roles.
  • Almost 40% of respondents to a US survey have used cleaners and disinfectants in a high-risk way to prevent virus transmission, including using on bare skin, intentionally inhaling, and drinking or gargling. The survey followed a sharp increase in calls to poison centres for exposures to cleaners and disinfectants.
  • Faecal-oral transmission of SARS-CoV-2 may be possible. A systematic review found that the virus was present in the faeces of 40% of patients, while 12% of patients experience gastro-intestinal symptoms such as diarrhoea.
  • A systematic review found that COVID-19 patients with cardiovascular disease and hypertension have around five times the in-hospital mortality as those without such heart conditions.
  • Evidence is growing that a high proportion of COVID-19 patients may remain asymptomatic. 58% of passengers who tested positive on the Diamond Princess cruise ship were asymptomatic at first testing. Of those patients followed up over subsequent weeks, just 11% developed symptoms.
  • Roughly 10% of the population of Geneva are estimated to have antibodies to the virus, but researchers note that this is far below the levels needed for population immunity and advise caution in easing restrictions.
  • A study of over 1,700 different policies to prevent the spread of COVID-19 estimated that 62 million confirmed infections and 530 million total infections were avoided as a result of these measures across the six countries studied: China, France, Iran, Italy, South Korea, and the US.
  • Researchers estimate that between 3.2–4.0% of the populations of 11 European countries have been infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and that numbers would have been significantly higher without non-pharmaceutical interventions, especially lockdowns.

New on the Actuaries Institute website this week.


CPD: Actuaries Institute Members can claim two CPD points for every hour of reading articles on Actuaries Digital.