Update: Australian coronavirus death toll is 'incomplete'

 

The global coronavirus death toll is likely far higher than reported, according to an unsettling new analysis from the Yale School of Public Health.

Researchers examined the number of "excess deaths" recorded in the United States during March and the first two weeks of April, when the crisis truly started to hit. That term refers to the number of deaths "beyond what would normally be expected" at that time of year.

Yale found there were 37,100 excess deaths during the period in question, which is about 13,500 more than were officially chalked up to the coronavirus. The implication is that there are thousands of people missing from the official death toll.

"I think people need to be aware that the data they're seeing on deaths is very incomplete," epidemiology professor Dan Weinberger told The Washington Post.

"It's hard to say how much higher, but our best guess might be it's in the range of one-and-a-half times higher."

The challenges associated with recording an accurate death toll are not exclusive to the US. And even the official figures there are bad enough. America passed 67,000 deaths today, and it has recorded 1,155,000 confirmed cases of the virus.

RELATED: Follow more coronavirus news

The situation is more positive in Australia. We have now recorded 6783 cases of COVID-19, with 3031 in New South Wales, 1371 in Victoria, 1034 in Queensland, 438 in South Australia, 551 in Western Australia, 223 in Tasmania, 106 in the Australian Capital Territory and 29 in the Northern Territory.

The death toll stands at 93.

Follow our live, rolling coverage below.

Live Updates

How close PM came to death

Sam Clench

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has spoken to The Sun about his own struggle with the virus, revealing just how much danger his life was in. Apparently, the situation was bad enough that doctors had started to consider how they should announce his death, if it were to happen.

"It was a tough old moment, I won't deny it. They had a strategy to deal with a 'death of Stalin' type scenario. I was not in particularly brilliant shape, and I was aware there were contingency plans in place," Mr Johnson said.

"The doctors had all sorts of arrangements for what to do if things went badly wrong. They gave me a face mask so I got litres and litres of oxygen, and for a long time I had that and the little nose jobbie.

"It was hard to believe that in just a few days my health had deteriorated to this extent. I remember feeling frustrated. I couldn't understand why I wasn't getting better.

"But the bad moment came when it was 50/50 whether they were going to have to put a tube down my windpipe.

"They were starting to think about how to handle it, presentationally."

Crowds reappear in New York

Sam Clench

New York City has been eerily quiet for weeks, and for good reason. It is the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak in the United States, with more than 300,000 cases.

Put another way, New York alone has more confirmed cases than any other country on the planet.

But our US correspondent Megan Palin reports New Yorkers were suddenly out in some force again today.

  1h agoMay 3, 2020Highlight

Tracing app not yet 'operational'

Sam Clench

So far, more than four million Australians have downloaded the government's coronavirus tracing app, COVIDSafe.

Yesterday one of the government's deputy chief medical officers, Professor Michael Kidd, said it was "realistic" to expect millions more to download it before National Cabinet sits again on Friday.

If you have the app, it is already saving information about the people you've come into close contact with. But interestingly, the officials tasked with doing the contact tracing can't access that data yet.

"The rules on privacy are being finalised, along with final IT testing," a federal Health Department spokesman told the ABC.

"The system will be operational next week, ahead of the decision on possible easing of restrictions."

Prof Kidd also spoke about this, confirming officials would be able to start using the data at some point in the coming week.

"The important thing is that if people have downloaded the app and they have it running in the background on their phone, it's already gathering details of people you've been in close contact with," he said.

"There's a delay from now until when the contact tracer in the state or territory where you are based has activated the system."

1h agoMay 3, 2020Highlight

Virus death toll is 'incomplete'

Sam Clench

Good morning. I'll be guiding you through all the coronavirus-related news over the next few hours.

Let's start in the United States, where a research team from the Yale School of Public Health has conducted an unsettling analysis of the pandemic's death toll.

The team looked at the number of "excess deaths" America suffered in March and the first two weeks of April. That term refers to the number of deaths "beyond what would normally be expected" at that time of year.

Yale found there were 37,100 excess deaths during that period, which is about 13,500 more than were officially chalked up to the coronavirus.

The implication is that there are thousands of people missing from the official death toll.

"I think people need to be aware that the data they're seeing on deaths is very incomplete," epidemiology professor Dan Weinberger told The Washington Post.

"It's hard to say how much higher, but our best guess might be it's in the range of one-and-a-half times higher."

The official figures are bad enough, of course. America's death toll passed 67,000 today, and it has recorded 1,155,000 confirmed cases of the virus.

Students may face 'learning gaps'

Alle McMahon

Almost half of Australian primary and secondary students are at risk of falling behind in their education if schools remain shut for too long, a government commissioned report says.

Learning from home could disadvantage vulnerable students if nothing is done to support them, findings from the Rapid Response Information Forum chaired by chief scientist Alan Finkel say.

"If this is not addressed promptly and directly, learning gaps can emerge and widen," contributing author and UNSW professor Andrew Martin said.

"It is vital that students who are at academic risk receive the necessary instructional and other supports required for them to successfully engage in remote or blended learning."

The report was submitted to Education Minister Dan Tehan on Friday and is a synthesis of research from 35 organisations on the effects of online versus in-class education.

It says students from socio-economic backgrounds, with English as a second language, who have special learning needs or are from remote areas are at particular risk of poor learning outcomes.

Factors impacting the success of remote learning include digital access, home environment, family support, teacher and student readiness and capability.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are likely to face particular challenges with remote learning because of poor internet service, device availability, less interaction with indigenous teachers and the absence of culturally appropriate teaching in online resources.

The report suggests "blended learning" - a combination of face-to-face teaching and remote learning - could be as good as classroom learning for many students.

- AAP

UK commuters could be tested

Alle McMahon

Britons could head back to work this month, with commuters asked to take their temperatures before leaving home, as the UK government mulls how to ease its strict lockdown.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has promised to unveil a "comprehensive" exit plan on Thursday after this week declaring Britain was finally "past the peak" of its coronavirus outbreak.

"We're past the peak and we're on the downward slope, and we have so many reasons to be hopeful for the long term," he said at a press conference on Thursday.

"I will be setting out a comprehensive plan next week to explain how we can get our economy moving, our children back to school and into childcare, and thirdly how we can travel to work and make life in the workplace safer," he added.

The PM reportedly wants people to return to work from Tuesday, May 26.

It means factories and offices will have act quickly to install new social distancing measures, such as perspex screens between desks, to keep workers safe.

People who take public transport to work could also be asked to check their temperature before leaving home under one proposal being considered by the government, according to The Times.

Those who have a higher than normal temperature would then be expected to stay at home.

Read more.

The case against China

Alle McMahon

China deliberately suppressed or destroyed evidence of the coronavirus outbreak in an "assault on international transparency'' that cost tens of thousands of lives, according to a dossier prepared by concerned Western governments on the COVID-19 contagion.

The 15-page research document, obtained by The Saturday Telegraph, lays the foundation for the case of negligence being mounted against China.

It states that to the "endangerment of other countries" the Chinese government covered-up news of the virus by silencing or "disappearing" doctors who spoke out, destroying evidence of it in laboratories and refusing to provide live samples to international scientists who were working on a vaccine.

Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan in China's central Hubei province. Picture: Hector Retamal/AFP

It can also be revealed the Australian government trained and funded a team of Chinese scientists who belong to a laboratory which went on to genetically modify deadly coronaviruses that could be transmitted from bats to humans and had no cure, and is not the subject of a probe into the origins of COVID-19.

As intelligence agencies investigate whether the virus inadvertently leaked from a Wuhan laboratory, the team and its research led by scientist Shi Zhengli feature in the dossier prepared by Western governments that points to several studies they conducted as areas of concern.

Read more.

Plan to axe 'inefficient' taxes

Alle McMahon

The NSW opposition have given their cautious support to the Berejiklian government's push to abolish stamp duty and payroll tax in a bid to revive the state's economy following coronavirus.

With unemployment forecast to hit 10 per cent by the end of the year, NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet on Saturday laid out a plan to scrap what he described as inefficient taxes.

While the outbreak of the deadly disease has punched a hole in the economy, Mr Perrottet told Nine that: "We are not going to tax our way back into prosperity."

The treasurer said that stamp duty was at the top of his hit list and his plan will also focus on productivity, deregulation, digitisation, trade and investment.

NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet. Picture: AAP/Dean Lewins

State opposition leader Jodi McKay said she wanted to see more details of the treasurer's proposal but was willing to negotiate in exchange for her support.

"We are very much up for this discussion, we don't want it to be a thought bubble put out there," she said.

"It is a conversation that we want to actively engage in.

"We know we can't fall back into the inefficiencies of our budget and economy. We have to look at bold and brave decisions and reform."

NSW shadow treasurer Walt Secord said all options were on the table after the state was battered by the summer bushfire crisis, a downturn in the construction industry and COVID-19.

"We have people who've entered Centrelink who have never in their entire lives thought they would ever go into a Centrelink for assistance," he said.

"I want to see the treasurer seize this opportunity, we stand ready to work in partnership. I want to work with him to improve the economy, create jobs, attract investment."

-AAP


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