A tiresome refrain – Test, Test Accurately and Report Timely

di Priscilla Pajdo del May 7, 2020

TORONTO - Only increased testing and accurate reporting will allow us to see a proper picture of the virus and its spread. It will also indicate how lethal this virus is.

Today's update on Covid-19 cases across the globe lends further evidence to this truth.

The world is preparing to enter phase two of its “strategic plan” to return to normal. The ultimate solution to defeating Covid-19 has yet to emerge.

Since our last report on May 4, the UK has been testing more and has reported 194,990 confirmed positive cases. As per our sobering prediction, the fatalities in the UK have now surpassed those of Italy, the hardest hit European country until now.

We have added Belgium in today's chart. In population size at roughly 11.5 million, it approximates Ontario. The status of Covid-19 cases in Belgium is quite sobering. Of those who tested positive, 16.4% ended in fatality. That outcome is quite alarming especially when compared to other hard-hit European countries: France, Italy, Spain and the UK.

Our purpose though, is to illustrate how Belgium compares to the province of Ontario (also added in today's chart). With nearly half a million tests so far, Belgium has identified 50,571 infected patients – a rate of 10.7% of those tested. Regrettably, 8,339 (16.2% of those who confirmed positive) died.

With a similar population, Ontario is testing at a much lower rate (2.7%) than that of Belgium. The Premier of Ontario had committed to a ramp up testing to 16,000 tests a day. Numbers released by the Ministry of Health report 10,654 tests completed on May 4.

Looking eastward to our neighbour, Quebec, note that 239,241 were tested, and 14% of those have resulted positive. That is far more than those in Ontario. In our federation, no one has yet to explain the discrepancies; we are left to wonder if we all have di›erent definitions for “test, trace and isolate”. Quebec is opening [some of] their schools Monday.

We also wanted to show the situation in the eastern Mediterranean area, countries of Greece, Turkey, and Iran.

Although Greece is on the smaller end of the size scale, they are testing less than 1% of the population. Of those that have confirmed positive, 5.5% end in fatality.

On the larger end of the scale are the countries of Iran and Turkey. Testing only 0.6% of the population, Iran has, to date, identified a larger number of those that test positive - 6.3% are fatal. Turkey on the other hand, testing at a rate of 1.4%, reports that of those confirmed positive, 2.7% end in death.

These numbers are in a constant state of flux. And, with reason. For one, a lag in reporting time. Dashboards rely on various sources, including popular press, is another; as is the accuracy of numbers reported. The world’s National Health Institutes and other reporting agencies do not appear to have a rigorous system in place yet.

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