Masked debate and data dumps

The Numbers


Cases confirmed worldwide by national authorities stand at 1,210,956 (77,200 of them reported in the preceding 24 hours). 67,594 deaths have been recorded (4810). (Source: WHO Situation Report 77; at 10:00 CET on Monday 6 April)

Johns Hopkins University’s Center of Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) reported (at 15:30 AET on Tuesday 7 April) 1,347,892 confirmed cases and 74,808 deaths. 


At 06:00 AET on Tuesday 7 April

Nationwide, confirmed cases stand at 5844, a rise of 100 in 24 hours. 42 deaths have been recorded. More than 304,000 tests have been conducted.

ACT 96 cases (first case reported 12 March); NSW 2686 (25 January); NT 27 (20 March); Qld 921 (29 January); SA 411 (2 February); Tas 85 (2 March); Vic 1158 (25 January); WA 460 (21 February).


The novel coronavirus’s methods of spreading, and the importance of different ways to mitigate, has been high on research and reporting agendas. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended wearing cloth masks in public and published instructions on how to make your own. The CDC cites several papers, including two from the New England Journal of Medicine here and here, and one from the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

Still on masks, an article in Nature Medicine confirms that efficacy of using masks to prevent spread from symptomatic patients, while Cosmos Editor-at-Large Elizabeth Finkel considered the likelihood of the virus transmitting via tiny aerosols, among other matters.


Yesterday the much-anticipated Doherty Institute modelling data for COVID-19 impact in Australia and the Asia Pacific was released. The models were used to inform the Commonwealth Government’s public health response. The research papers are available here.

Data questioning is as prevalent as data acceptance – as it should be – and robust discussion about the accuracy of big-picture figures is common.

The paucity of data in national disease detection and prevention systems has been highlighted by many epidemiologists, including Oxford professor David Hunter. Health data is too fragmented to be useful, many believe.

Lancet Infectious Diseases published a paper taking a data-driven approach to the question of COVID-19 fatalities. Death ratio estimates vary considerably, note the authors: their work aims to produce robust, data-based estimates.

Share Index

People who profess to enjoy their own company, and those already accustomed to working from home, are among those we imagined would cope fairly well with self-isolation and lockdown requirements. Turns out there’s no such thing as an introvert’s paradise.

A COVID-19 case described as “human to cat transmission” has emerged at New York’s Bronx Zoo, where a tiger named Nadia – and it’s feared other big cats – tested positive to the virus. A pre-print paper published on 31 March in bioRxiv about the susceptibility of animals to the coronavirus suggests that the pathogen replicates “efficiently” in ferrets and cats, but poorly in dogs, pigs, chickens and ducks.

Is inadequate cleaning a contributing factor in the spread of COVID-19? Yes, say infection specialists at Sydney’s Macquarie University, among others. The Sydney Morning Herald article about this made a simple conclusion: SARS-COV-2 doesn’t like soap and it doesn’t like solutions containing more than 65% alcohol. Scrub a dub dub, everyone.

If you prefer your expert talking heads to have at least a Nobel prize there’s good news: 1996 Nobel Physiology or Medicine laureate Peter Doherty has launched a weekly “commentary/explainer” called Setting it Straight, which launched early this week with the topic Talking about COVID-19? “Words matter,” writes Doherty. “For research scientists like me, the first thing we must do in any discussion is to get our terminology straight. When we use a word, or a phrase, to describe something, it’s essential that we’re all on the same page.” Please share with your nearest alt-right commentator.

Please login to favourite this article.