COVID-19, Australia: Epidemiology Report 16 (Reporting week to 23:59 AEST 17 May 2020).Commun Dis Intell (2018). 2020 May 22; 44CD
Confirmed cases in Australia notified up to 17 May 2020: notifications = 7,075; deaths = 100. The incidence of new cases of COVID-19 has reduced dramatically since a peak in mid-March. Social distancing measures, public health action and the reduction in international travel have likely been effective in slowing the spread of the disease, in the Australian community. Testing rates over the past week have increased markedly, with a continued very low proportion of people testing positive. These low rates of detection are indicative of low levels of COVID-19 transmission. It is important that testing rates and community adherence to public health measures remain high to support the continued suppression of the virus, particularly in vulnerable high-risk groups and settings. New cases of COVID-19 are currently being reported by by only some jurisdictions, albeit at relatively low rates. Although case numbers are low, new cases tend to still be a mix of overseas-acquired and locally-acquired infections. Most locally-acquired cases can be linked back to a known case or cluster. Although the proportion of locally-acquired cases has increased, the overall rate of new cases, regardless of place of acquisition, continues to decrease. The crude case fatality rate in Australia remains low (1.4%), compared with the WHO reported global rate (6.9%). The low case fatality rate is likely reflective of high case detection and high quality of health care services in Australia. Deaths from COVID-19 in Australia have occurred predominantly among the elderly and those with comorbidities, with no deaths occurring in those under 40 years. The highest rate of COVID-19 continues to be among people aged 60-79 years. One third of all cases in this age group have been associated with several outbreaks linked to cruise ships. The lowest rate of disease is in young children, a pattern reflected in international reports. Internationally, while the number of new cases each day remains relatively stable at the global level, some areas such as Brazil and India are showing a dramatic rise in reported cases. Although some low-income countries have so far reported few cases, it is possible that this is due to limited diagnostic and public health capacity, and may not be reflective of true disease incidence.