With each passing day that our valiant frontline medical professionals battle with Covid-19, we learn a little more about how this new virus and the disease it causes has travelled so unstoppably around the world. Since the first case of Covid-19 was identified in Sydney on January 22, NSW Health has been collecting vital data that is now revealing a more vivid picture of how the coronavirus is infiltrating our communities. Of the more than 110,000 Aussies tested for the virus in NSW so far, 2,389 have been diagnosed with the coronavirus (as of the time of publication) and ten have died.
However, while these topline stats are likely familiar to you, digging deeper into the data reveals some telling truths that might well change your perception of the pandemic and the role we all play in defeating it.
While it has been widely reported that, with the exception of a few cases, the majority of those worst affected by the disease have been the elderly, by far the largest percentage of confirmed cases in NSW have been found in people aged 20 to 39 years old; nearly 38% of the total number of infected people are within this age range. This indicates that while people in this age group may not be as severely debilitated by symptoms, their lifestyles and habits are the perfect vehicle for this opportunistic virus to spread. And younger people are still vulnerable to the most severe forms of Covid-19. While all of those to die in Australia so far have been aged between 70 and 95 years old, a 36-year-old Australian died of complications associated with Covid-19 in Iceland, and teenagers and children as young as five have also died from the disease in Europe, China and the United States.
Number of confirmed Covid-19 cases by age group and gender in NSW, as of April 1, 2020
While the curve of the infection rate in Australia has shown early signs of slowing – or 'flattening' as it's been dubbed – the data from NSW shows a steady increase in ‘community transmission’ rates, as the number of people identified as having contracted the disease overseas has slowly decreased. This means that the number of people who are contracting Covid-19 during everyday activities – the kinds of activities the government has swiftly restricted – rather than from international travel, is still rising.
Infection rate curve of confirmed Covid-19 cases by likely source of transmission, as of April 1, 2020
This is most soberingly shown by looking at the 11 ‘cluster investigations’ from NSW, which have identified events where multiple people were infected at the same time. For example, a wedding in Wollongong on March 9 resulted in 38 guests leaving with Covid-19, while a Boogie Wonderland-themed party in Waverly on March 17 produced 34 confirmed cases.
South Eastern Sydney is currently the area where most Covid-19 cases have been reported – 510 confirmed infections so far, largely clustered around Waverley and Bondi – closely followed by Northern Sydney, where 409 people have tested positive. By contrast, the centre of Sydney is faring far better than many other major cities dealing with outbreaks, with only 169 cases confirmed to date. However, this is still the highest number in an Australian city – more than four times as many as in central Melbourne, where there have been 41 confirmed cases.
Confirmed cases of Covid-19 across NSW, as of April 1, 2020
This data is constantly shifting and will continue to reveal more about this disease and how it is spreading in the coming weeks and months. However, what is already very apparent is that this disease does not discriminate and that without the restrictions that we are all currently living with, Covid-19 would spread rapidly and unchecked. So please, for the sake of everyone in Sydney, young and old: wash your hands, observe physical distancing, abide by social restrictions, and above all, whenever possible stay home.
See the full data sets and stay up to date with the latest Covid-19 developments on the Health NSW website.