Looking at the COVID-19 statistics on day 3

I live just a couple of kilometres from the border of Switzerland with France, and last Monday evening the border was closed except for frontaliers (who live across the border from work) and those with urgent reasons.  We are now in day 3 of social isolation. All shops, social and fitness venues and schools are closed except for groceries, pharmacies and petrol. Gatherings of 5 or more people inside or outside are banned and everyone who can is asked to work from home. The regime in France is even more extreme, and you are required to fill out an online form to get permission for venturing outside, ie. to walk the dog.

I was looking at the Johns Hopkins website that tracks confirmed cases and reported deaths from COVID-19. It lists countries in descending order and I realized I had not seen plots of cases or deaths per capita, so I made some using the numbers there today. (i’ve not  shown San Marino separately to Italy, as it would dwarf Italy’s rates). Switzerland is the 4th highest country in terms of cases per 100,000 and 5th for deaths per 100,000 (after Italy, Spain, Iran and Netherlands).

Of course these rates are seriously influenced by rates of testing and diagnosis, and identification and reporting of deaths, and clearly some countries and regions are doing much more testing and case/death identification than others. The cross-sectional comparison at one point in time will also not give any sort of correct comparison of the overall final impact of the epidemics across countries, since countries are all at different points on the epidemic curve.

These numbers are all fast moving and the JHU website is not always as updated as the latest figures appearing in some media and government sites. But they are generally not far behind. Its interesting that the rates are much higher for Switzerland than France, but the social distancing regime in France is more draconian than here.

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