COVID-19 Monday Roundup 14 September 2020

COVID-19 and a spate of natural disasters mean reinsurance rates are set to increase. Meanwhile the first case of transmission from animals to humans has been documented in a mink farm in Denmark. New data shows over half of Victoria’s residential aged care deaths occurred in just 16 homes. And trials of AstraZeneca’s vaccine candidate are recommencing, following a temporary halt when a participant developed symptoms of a rare condition.

Australia Summary – 13 September

Australia recorded 371 new cases this week (609 last week), taking total case numbers to 26,648. 

Victoria again dominated with 297 locally acquired cases (down from 523 last week) and 57 deaths (well down on 142 last week, noting this includes 83 late reported aged care deaths).  46 deaths this week were associated with outbreaks in aged care (135 last week).

Two metrics have been flagged in the Victorian Roadmap for easing restrictions – the 14-day average number of new cases and the number of cases with unknown transmission:

  • Melbourne moved to Step 1 of the Roadmap at midnight last night (13/9). It can move to Step 2 on 28 September if the 14-day average is between 30 and 50 cases and the public health team is satisfied with the level of unknown transmission cases.  The 14-day average is currently 56.9 so Melbourne looks likely to meet the target.
  • Regional Victoria moved to Step 2 of the Roadmap at midnight last night. It can move to Step 3 when the 14-day average is below five cases and there have been zero cases of unknown transmission in the previous 14 days.  The 14-day average is already below five (currently 4.1) and 14 days with zero unknown transmission cases is expected to be reached in the coming days.


Data on Victorian aged care homes shows that 16 facilities had more than half of their residents COVID-positive, and those facilities accounted for around half of the aged care deaths.  More than 20% of the residents in these 16 facilities have died in the last 6-8 weeks, with three facilities having 30% of their residents dying.  The case fatality ratio for aged care is currently 29%.

Table 1: COVID-19 Cases and Deaths, Residential aged care Victoria.

Proportion of Residents Infected

Number of Facilities


Number of Residents Infected

Number of Deaths

% of Residents Dying

Case Fatality Ratio











































NSW recorded 34 locally acquired cases (56 last week).  New clusters have emerged in the Liverpool/Concord hospitals’ emergency departments (18 cases) and the Eastern Suburbs Legion Club (seven cases), the source of which is unknown.  Two other cases also had an unknown source of transmission (four last week), with the remainder of cases linked to known clusters.

Queensland recorded 16 locally acquired cases (10 last week) all linked to known clusters.

No other state/territory reported any locally acquired cases.  Overseas travellers accounted for only 24 cases (19 last week).

Key market update

  • Payroll jobs remain 4.2% below mid-March levels nationally, with Victoria seeing a 7.9% fall over the same period Some of the worst hit industries (Food and Accomodation, Arts and Recreation) have recovered around half the jobs lost at the peak of the lockdowns.
  • GDP fell a record 7% in the June quarter, driven by a 7.9% fall in private demand. Jobkeeper and Cashflow boosts to business accounted for more than 90% of the $52 billion support to businesses in the June quarter.
  • Government passed legislation to extend Jobkeeper to 28 March 2021. Additional government stimulus measures might be needed to speed up the recovery in unemployment and minimise the risk of a sluggish and prolonged recovery from the COVID-19 downturn, according to the Grattan institute.
  • Interest rates were held steady at 25bps by the RBA.
  • APRA released a response to ADIs following consultation on loans impacted by COVID-19 and formalised the capital measures and reporting requirements for these loans, with the temporary measures available until 31 March 2021.
  • AM Best says its stable outlook for the reinsurance industry is due to rate strengthening offsetting the negative effects of COVID-19 and catastrophe events. Swiss Re reports that further rate strengthening is likely following losses and added pressure on underwriting results given low interest rates.
  • Lloyd’s expects to pay $9bn in COVID-19 claims as it revealed that the market’s underlying performance (excluding COVID-19) has significantly improved in the H1 2020 compared to the same period in 2019.
  • The UK Business interruption test case results are to be announced on 15th September. The ICA’s test case in Australia will commence hearing on 2 October in the NSW Court of Appeal.
  • KPMG identified common challenges and opportunities for Financial Services to thrive in the new reality.
  • As mental health services adapt to COVID-19, KPMG considers the opportunities from greater access through telehealth and virtual platforms.


New COVID-19 research

  • Modelling suggests that elimination could have been achieved in six weeks if Victoria had gone into full stage 4 lockdown immediately from 9 July, rather than the Stage 3 restrictions.
  • AstraZeneca temporarily halted and then recommenced trials of its experimental vaccine after an independent panel assessed the vaccine’s safety, when a participant experienced symptoms of a rare spinal inflammatory disorder.
  • Meanwhile,nine vaccine developers announced an “historic pledge” to uphold scientific and ethical standards in the search for a vaccine, and senior executives from the US Food & Drug Administration authored an opinion piece saying science would be their guide, after US President Donald Trump said he wanted a vaccine available before November’s election.
  • Transmission from animals to humans. This pre-print article suggests mink can pass SARS-CoV-2 onto humans. The evidence comes from a Dutch mink farm where humans first infected the mink.
  • Immunity. A prior bout of COVID-19 may proffer some future immunity against the disease. A survey of some 1200 people in Iceland showed that antibodies endure for four months after infection. Meanwhile, the three crew members who had previously tested positive for COVID-19 did not contract a second bout of the disease on a boat trip where 85% of crew eventually contracted the disease.
  • Face masks. In a further argument for facemasks, evidence is emerging that wearing face masks results in a less severe bout of COVID-19 for those who are infected, due to receiving a lower viral load. Some commentators argue this may help on the road to herd immunity.
  • Young adults and children. Young adults with multiple risk factors experience similar mortality to middle aged adults without risk factors. Of 3200 U.S. adults aged 18 to 34 hospitalized with COVID-19, 21% required ICU admission, 10% required mechanical ventilation, and 3% died. Morbid obesity, hypertension and male sex were independent predictors of death. Over 513,000 cases of COVID-19 had been reported in U.S. children, and evidence now shows that children can spread the disease to parents and other household members.
  • Corticosteroids reduce mortality in people severely ill with COVID-19.


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.