Update 17 April


Nowcasting – How Real Time Data Will Inform Restrictions


Everyone wants to see restrictions eased. Yesterday’s blog was on the testing, tracing and isolating that needs to ramp up in the next 4 weeks in order to be ready for this. But how do we know when those are effective enough to lift some restrictions?


Part 2 today is about the tool that will help to measure effectiveness in suppressing the virus, as outlined by Chief Medical Officer, Professor Brendan Murphy yesterday.


Plugging in real time data on any given day, using numbers from the previous 14 days, the model will spit out a number called the Reff.  This number gives a snapshot of how many people, on average, are being infected by a person diagnosed with COVID-19 in the community. When the pandemic started, this Reff  or Reproduction number was 2.5. To consider easing restrictions it must be less than 1.


Guess what? Right now Reff  = <1 (less than 1) in most regions of Australia. Some states don’t have enough data to calculate it yet, so there are still some guesstimates.  


What does that mean? That the intervention strategies (and all the excellent ways you are participating) are working.


So in future, as we trial easing of restrictions, this Reff number will be what the experts watch. Plug in the ‘now’ figures. If it begins to rise above 1, restrictions must tighten up again. If the number stays below 1, we’re keeping the virus squashed enough.


And now you know what nowcasting is.


If you like graphs, you’ll find more of the modelling information here.



The Blame Game


There seems to be a general roaming to find out who to point fingers at for all our discomfort and suffering. The Ruby Princess has been the ideal target in Australia. In an interview last night, Peter Dutton, Federal Minister for Home Affairs, said that there should be investigations around how information was disclosed internationally as the coronavirus pandemic emerged.


The World Health Organisation (WHO) has also come under scrutiny. It’s questioned whether the organisation announced the pandemic too late. Its backing of China reopening the wet markets has not been received well by other parts of the globe, considering that these markets were the source of Case 1 of COVID-19. ScoMo advised that he too has criticisms of the WHO, and that to be sanctioning wet markets that include wildlife “is just completely mystifying to me.” However, he also acknowledged the important work of WHO, and that, “we’re not going to throw the baby out with the bathwater…


In a response to recent criticism from US President Donald Trump, the WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said,

In due course, WHO’s performance in tackling this pandemic will be reviewed by WHO’s Member States and the independent bodies that are in place to ensure transparency and accountability. This is part of the usual process put in place by our Member States.

No doubt, areas for improvement will be identified and there will be lessons for all of us to learn.”



Correction on Unemployment Stats:

In my blog on 15 April – Cushioning the Blow of Rising Unemployment: The current unemployment rate has risen to just 5.2% (not double digits as stated) with a predicted rise to peak at around 10%. The JobKeeper package has meant Australia will avoid unemployment levels much higher than that.



The Stats for Australia


The curve continues to flatten.

  • There have been 6,497 confirmed cases of COVID-19
  • No further deaths in the last 24 hours.
  • 66 people are in ICU (down from 80)
  • 3747 people have recovered.



Hope Over Fear


Musical Messages


In Africa, singing weaves into every part of life, including responses to COVID-19.



  • In rich tones and harmonies, the Ndlovu Youth Choir sent a message to South Africa: “Don’t panic – we will beat coronavirus”. In different languages the message of handwashing and slowing the spread came through in a flamboyant burst of colour and song. Click on the link below to watch the video – it will make you happy. 
  • A Ghanian doctor in China harnessed the potential of his three-man African band to write a rap song educating people about the coronavirus. Feel the beat of his wise words in the link below.


CNN – African Artists create catchy songs: https://edition.cnn.com/2020/03/17/africa/coronavirus-music-africa-intl/index.html



One World: Together At Home

Don’t forget the multi-star, multi-hour concert this weekend to promote global solidarity, and appreciation of health workers. In Australia the concert will be airing live on Sunday from 10am-12pm on Channel Seven, Channel Ten, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Twitch.



Your Tip for Today


If you’re looking for a role model in handling self-isolation, Jessica Watson is the champion to speak to. Being the youngest person at 16-years-old to survive a non-stop sailing trip around the world, she spent 210 days alone on a boat.


“I’ve learnt that anyone can choose to manage their fears and develop the resilience to overcome setbacks and reach the smaller milestones that enable you to achieve big, audacious goals.”


Her tips for the current time:

  • Be disciplined about your own mental fitness. If there’s no-one around you to cheer you on, you need to sort yourself out.
  • Keep the purpose for why you’re at home in the forefront of your mind. Purpose helps to make it worthwhile.
  • Keep up with rituals (Jessica preferred this to routines). For her, it was remembering to stop and enjoy the sunset each day.
  • Have small goals to cling to. Give yourself something smaller to work towards than the large goal of returning to normal life.
  • Be strong for someone else. ‘It may sound crazy, but in the worst storm, I yelled to my boat – “We’ve got this!”
    Phone someone else who needs a cheerful voice, a joke or reassurance.



What About You?


I’d love to hear your stories.

  • What music cheers you up in isolation? Can you share any playlists?
  • What strategies do you use to keep up your own mental fitness?



Drop me a comment below.



Information Sources


AHPPC Statement on Nowcasting



Prime Minister Interview with Gareth Parker, 6PR – 15 April



WHO Director-General media release – 16 April



Minister for Employment, Michaelia Cash, on unemployment levels – 16 April



Paul Murray (Sky News) podcast: PM in the AM – 17 April

(Includes interview with Peter Dutton, and Jessica Watson)


CNN – African Artists create catchy songs: https://edition.cnn.com/2020/03/17/africa/coronavirus-music-africa-intl/index.html


Jessica Watson






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