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Dunedin | Christchurch
Dunedin | Christchurch

Covid-19 Response Analysis

How has New Zealand responded compared to it’s common comparison countries

Case analysis report

During New Zealand’s response to the Covid-19 virus outbreak here at Flock Consulting we built an analysis report to track the number of new and active cases. This analysis is based on the data we could retrieve from the Ministry of Health in New Zealand and global data from John Hopkins University.

Recently New Zealand has seen our daily new case numbers drop to single digits which has allowed the New Zealand government to announce a move from Level 4 to Level 3 with the possibility we will move to Level 2 in the following weeks.

The success of our move to Level 4 and the reduction of new cases has meant the analysis of cases in New Zealand becomes less important, unless of course we see a second wave, so I decided to shift my focus toward our international neighbors or trading partners.

Approach

I have decided to look at the trend of Active Cases over time using the data from John Hopkins. to do this I have taken 2 data sets

  1. Global Confirmed Cases – Time series
  2. Global Recovered Cases – Time series

I have then calculated the time since the 5th case and the difference between Confirmed and Recovered cases to arrive at the Active cases.

I am relying on the accuracy of the John Hopkins data and recognise that there is a high risk this data is not accurate due to number of reasons, including but not limited to:

  1. Accuracy of data being reported by countries
  2. Accuracy of data due to testing approach and potential missed cases
  3. The definition of a Recovered case

Comparison to other countries

In the media, there has been a number of countries New Zealand’s response has been compared to. For this analysis I have selected.

  1. New Zealand
  2. Australia
  3. South Korea
  4. Singapore

And for my analysis per Million I have included the United States and China and the territory of Hong Kong

Active Cases

This chart shows the number of Active cases since the 5th case was reported.

New Zealand

Cases in New Zealand seem to have started to rise slightly earlier than others, however not as steeply. This could be due to the latest of Covid arriving to New Zealand and us being more aware and quicker to test.

Our 5th case occurred on 5th March, we were notified of our move to level 4 on the 23rd then went into lockdown on the 26th, 21 days after our 5th case.

We can see that the number of active cases starts to flatten and decline around day 30 on the chart.

Australia

Their 5th case was reported on 27th January.

Australia took a while to start increasing, around day 45, then the increase in cases was relatively steep.

Australia closed non-essential businesses on March 23 (Day 56). NSW was put into stricter lockdown on March 31st (day 64)

Their decline in active cases turn about day 70

Incorrect data: I note that the data from John Hopkins has not changed for Australia for the last 4 days. the flattening of the line in the final days therefor i assume is incorrect.

South Korea

South Korea reported its first case on January 31

They did not go into lockdown but instead conducted a massive testing regime across the country within a matter of weeks of the first case, within two weeks South Korea was more than 100,000 test kits a day.

Active Cases started declining after day 44

Singapore

Singapore’s 5th case was reported on 27th January

Singapore closed schools and all nonessential businesses April 7

Although Singapore has been lauded in the media for there response and the development of a contract tracing app. this data seems to paint a very different picture.

Active Cases – Log scale

This chart shows the number of Active cases since the 5th case was reported with cases on a log scale. The log scale allows us to see the trends more clearly.

Active Cases per Million of population

This chart shows the number of Active cases per Million of Population since the 5th case was reported.

To create a fair comparison between countries I then looked at the number of Active cases per Million of Population.

As you can see this shows that based on population reported Active cases in New Zealand, Australia and South Korea peak at a very similar rate. The United Kingdom and the United States continue to grow. Hong Kong, after leveling off early went through a second wave, then has seemed to get things under control.

Questions remain on the accuracy of the data from China, however after reporting a level of control they seem to be entering a second wave with a slight increase in recent days.

Conclusion

For me this was all about analysing New Zealand’s response and the effectiveness of going into the strict lockdown early.

Among all of that what we can see it appears the early response has been effective in reducing the number of Active cases earlier than most of the comparison countries. Per Million of Population it hasn’t reduced the transmission rate relative to our closest neighbor, Australia, given their different approach to their lockdown.

Time will tell if we can continue this trajectory as we move into level 3 and beyond. I’m hesitant to be too optimistic with the evidence of second waves and some media reports of cases overseas of reinfections or reactivation.

It is evident in the case of the USA and the UK that action and social distancing is required. The question is for how long?

Post Author: Jon Foote