COVID 19 update: New jump in infections in the US and Europe

The bottom line: It was not a good day yesterday, as we saw a big jump in new cases in the US and Europe, South Korea registered a small rise again after some stabilisation and Brazil showed signs of exponential growth. Italy still showed signs of slowing growth, though.

The number of new cases outside China jumped higher again and moved above 20,000 from 15,000 on Tuesday. Some 75% of the increase came from Europe and 15% from the US.

US reported 2,943 new cases yesterday, up from 1,799 the day before. It was daily growth of 45%, which implies a doubling in 2-3 days. The total is now 9,458. After following in the footsteps of Italy, the US now looks to be on a steeper path. Part of the increase may be due to more widespread testing lately, though. A decline in the death rate to 1.6% from 1.8% provides some indication of this, as it was above 6% at the beginning of the outbreak. When compared with Italy, it is also important to note the US population is five times larger than that of Italy, which means many more infection chains can start. This could imply that the numbers in the US may well exceed those of Italy before the virus is under control. Two members of Congress yesterday tested positive for COVID-19.

Italy saw a slight increase in the number of new cases after some days of stabilisation. Some 4,207 new infections were registered, from around 3,500/day the previous four days. The growth rate is 13%, which is still lower than the 25% rate around a week ago. Hence, we do see signs that the contagion is slowing down following the lockdown on 9 March. It will show up in the data with a lag, though, as those registered today were infected around a week ago due to incubation time and the time it takes to get bad enough symptoms to get tested. Italy's death rate continues to rise, which could indicate there is a higher number of undetected cases. However, it is also likely that the death rate is actually higher. First, because it has turned out that 60% of the infections are among people above 60 years old versus only 10% in Germany. Second, the pressure on hospitals reduces the survival rate of the critical cases.

Germany reported an increase of 32% in total infections and the number of new cases increased to 2,960 from 2,095. The time it takes to double at a 30% growth rate is three days and Germany is now on a slightly steeper path than Italy at the same stage.

France continued to see a slightly slower growth rate, as it has been below 20% for the past two days. Spain and the UK, however, are still seeing rapid rises, with daily growth at 25% and 35%, respectively, yesterday. The UK's initial fairly lax position seems to be backfiring as infections have increased quite rapidly in recent days.

In Scandi countries, the number of new cases continues on a less steep path but apparent changes in test criteria make the data hard to interpret. Norway is worst hit with 1,591 infections, while Denmark and Sweden reported 1,057 and 1,301, respectively.

Read the full article from Danske Bank research here.

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