Is the COVID-19 outlook improving? It depends where you are on the Coronavirus Map
The latest report by Everbridge Risk Intelligence Service populating on the Everbridge Coronavirus Map dramatizes how complex the COVID-19 recovery process will be as well as how inconsistently the infection is spreading.
What’s Happening on the Coronavirus Map
The World Health Organization cautioned this week that the world has not yet seen the peak of the pandemic, but some regions – notably, parts of Asia and Europe – believe the worst is over and are cautiously preparing to restart their economic engines. In other places, though, the worst appears to be yet to come.
Several European countries that were hard hit by the virus are reporting brightening outlooks. Italy just reported the lowest percentage increase in daily new cases and has authorized trial reopenings of some nonessential businesses such as laundry facilities, bookstores and children’s clothing stores.
France reported its fourth consecutive day of declining intensive care patients on April 12 and Spain this week took its first small steps to reopen the country after seeing the lowest one-day rise in cases in almost a month. New hospital admissions appear to be stabilizing in the U.K., as well.
The Asia/Pacific region is seeing the most inconsistent progress. New infections are rising rapidly in Japan and Singapore but the situation in Australia, New Zealand and South Korea has stabilized enough that those governments are thinking about easing some distancing regulations. Australia’s deputy chief medical officer went so far last Saturday as to say the epidemic may be considered over. China also appears who has stabilized the outbreak internally and is focusing on limiting the influx of travelers from other countries.
Two of the most concerning parts of Asia are India – where cases doubled last week – and Japan, where Tokyo reported its largest single-day increase on Saturday and the nationwide number of confirmed cases more than doubled week-over-week. Singapore, which was hailed for its success in controlling the outbreak in its early stages, also continues to see a surge in new cases, with the total reported as of April 14 more than doubling the previous week’s figures.
One troubling development centered in South Korea is that some patients who were considered recovered from the disease have tested positive again. While that raises fears that recovering from the disease may not confer immunity, experts caution that there are other explanations, such as deficiencies in the tests.
There’s cautious optimism in North America that COVID-19 cases have begun to plateau, although death rates continue to rise. With more than 640,000 confirmed cases and 31,000 deaths, the U.S. continues to hold the dubious distinction of world-leader in both categories. However, the growth rate has slowed somewhat.
New cases in Canada grew by a little more than 50% in the most recent week, but that is down from the previous week’s spike when case numbers tripled and deaths quadrupled over the previous week.
The Latin America/Caribbean region reported a 70% increase in new cases last week, but it’s widely believed that the actual caseload is far greater because of underreporting and a shortage of tests. Meanwhile, economic forecasts point to the likelihood of a major downturn in the region because many economies are vulnerable to structural declines in oil consumption, exports, and tourism.
Finally, there’s bad news in the one part of the world that had escaped the brunt of the pandemic until now: sub-Saharan Africa. Cases there have been steadily doubling each week for the past three weeks and the number of deaths rose fivefold last week to over 500. Officials also worry that the low testing rate means that the actual infection rate is much greater than is being reported. There’s also evidence that the virus is spreading to rural communities where resources are limited and death rates are likely to be higher.