Wednesday, April 01, 2020

Tracking Coronavirus

Apparently the reason we applied restrictions nationwide is because we cannot track the coronavirus: the horse has bolted and we don't know where it is. In that case I'm guessing the numbers behind the W.H.O world dashboard is pure fiction.

As I already mentioned, the purported point of origin of the contagion is China, and the only way it can enter any other country is through discrete points of entry: border crossings, airports and (sea)ports. Entry involves, passports, visa's, tickets, boarding passes, passenger lists.

From all this entry documentation we can identify the suburbs returning residents are returning to, and do so for several months prior to the outbreak. We can identify tourists destinations. Each of these destinations become a point on a map, connected to the points of entry. Along each road network towards these destinations are public facilities. Each facility as a radial reach, for example supermarkets typically at 1 km to 2 km centres so the radial reach is 0.5 km to 1 km. Some larger facilities have radial reach of 5 km, whilst the larger shopping precincts have  a reach of 25 km or more.

But assuming its too late to track passengers, or don't have passenger data to do so, and that we don't know the radial reach of public spaces. Are we completely in the dark? No we're not.

We still have the points of origin: the airports, (sea)ports, and border crossings, and we have the hospitals where the infected are being treated, and we have the suburbs where the infected live. So using a map, pins and highlighters we can mark up a map. Using a geographical information system (GIS) we can build larger models  faster.

We can make assumptions. Say 1 km radial reach, 5 km radial reach and 25 km radial reach. For each of these reaches we define zones, red, orange and yellow. So for any infection point we can plot circular zones around that point, though once we have several points we can generate Delaney triangles and voronoi polygons.

So the points of entry are in the red zone, and the hospitals are placed in the red zone, and so are the suburbs with the infections. The paths between the points of entry and the infected suburbs are in the orange zone until infections identified in the zones. The paths between the infected suburbs and the hospitals are in the red zone.

No one is permitted to exit the red zone. So medical staff and hospital visitors are not permitted to return home, unless there is a contiguous red zone between their home and the hospital. In the red zone people are confined to their home, unless travelling to the hospital. In the orange zone, have the 2 person meeting restriction, in the yellow zone the 10 person limit. Outside the zone's simple social distancing requirements and increased area requirements at gatherings. No one outside the zones is permitted to enter the zone, no one inside the zones is permitted to exit.

As each new infection is identified, the suburb and 1 km radius of its centre is placed in the red zone. Each shop and public place in the suburb is identified and a 1 km radius red zone is placed around such facility.

On the ground the state police, federal police and the defence forces and defence force reserves can block the surrounding roads in and out of the zones. In some locations the road can be blocked with a shipping container.

It should not be necessary to shut down business across the nation of any kind. A pandemic isn't something to worry more about than an epidemic. Once an epidemic is identified in one country, it becomes necessary to lock nation borders to prevent the spread becoming a pandemic. Once located an infection in a country, it is then necessary to lock that area down to prevent the spread becoming a national epidemic. Since it is reaching epidemic status across all countries can only assume that each nation's response has been too late, and their response inappropriate and inadequate. That is  they have failed to contain the contagion to the known points of origin. The known points of origin being the actual identification of infected persons and the suburbs they live in.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but I expect every hospital, clinic, and GP, if not every individual doctor, to map the location of every patient, and to otherwise monitor and track clusters of illness, as it is part of the task of identifying cause.

What we currently have is national panic about something which has only sprung up in a few suburbs. Sure if I plot 50 km diameter circles on the points of infection I will engulf the entire metro area, and if do so with tourist destinations will engulf large regional areas. But it doesn't engulf the entire state. Sure 2/3rd's of population in the metro area, but that leaves 1/3rd of population in rural and mining towns who should be able to get on with business as usual, with some precautionary measures.

If we can home in on the infected suburbs, then we can keep most of industry operational and provide the goods which the quarantined are going to need. Instead we have had wide spread panic, people hoarding, shop shelves emptied and industry shut down. With industry shutdown, the shelves cannot be restocked, because they are not being produced, so doesn't matter if shop can stay open, and people are permitted to go to the shops.

That should not have happened. Employers know where their employees live, they know where the business is located. People in the infected suburbs get time off, and stay home, the rest continue work as usual. Some factories may have people working shoulder to shoulder, but most have workers 10 m or more apart. Offices may have people near enough shoulder to shoulder if work in a cube farm, but many are open plan with plenty of open space. School classrooms they have close proximity seating. Most places however have plenty of space for social distancing. Public transport and getting to work maybe the main problem. Reduced people on public transport and staggered work hours can assist with that.

Most business should have been and should still be operating with only minor changes to their operating procedures. The only businesses which should have some problems are those with personnel actually infected by the virus. But every business has been affected because the government and mass media has effectively declared everyone to be a carrier, when that is not the case.

If we properly tracked  the spread, we could all move on. Noting I already said in previous post, that we cannot get back to normal. Normal is what caused the problem, therefore we have to change behaviour moving forward. But we could move forward faster is we tracked the spread geographically and not just in numbers.

Don't really care about the numbers, want to know where it is. Its not at the end of the street, its not in the town, its something like 150 km away.


So later in the day (1/4/2020) I was informed about TV news report which mentioned differences between New York and Los Angeles, it therefore seemed that someone was looking at things a lot closer than simply country and state level. So I went looking for maps, and found the following:

Whilst the table below the map only lists totals for each state, the map is clearly identifying infections on a more local level. Having had success finding that map, I thought I see if could find map for Australia and more specific South Australia. Found the following:

  1.  Coronavirus in Australia: how many cases are there? Map, latest numbers and statistics
  2. Eastern Australia's coronavirus hotspots revealed: map shows affluent Sydney suburbs hard hit

One other issue is a few days back I held the view that there should be no way that the virus had reached the interior of Australia, so I checked cases for Alice Springs. Was disappointed to find that cases had been reported, and even more disappointing to discover that a large cause was tourists from interstate, in particular Queensland.

  1. Remote community lockdowns take effect as NT coronavirus cases increase to 12
  2. Coronavirus misinformation in Indigenous communities tackled with 'corona cricket' game
  3. Coronavirus strategies in the bush still a work in progress
Clearly the state borders weren't locked fast enough. The maps of the NSW, VIC, QLD, indicate that virus is concentrated in the state capitals. As also expected concentrated in the more affluent areas. The regional infections I'll hazard a guess are due to people in mining and agriculture who have been on overseas business trips.

Where as if I had a map of South Australia (SA), I would be more inclined to reason that should there be any regional infections, then they are a consequence of people from the Adelaide metro area, travelling to the rural regions to raid the supermarkets. Why their local supermarkets aren't stocked is beyond me, other than some unwarranted immediate need for people to stock pile.

At the moment the only regional infection in SA is in the Barossa Valley, the origin of which has been linked to foreign tourists (America and Switzerland). Since there is generally only one road into most of the remote towns, we should generally be able to lock people out off the towns, or otherwise lock people in them.

Related Posts

[01/04/2020] : Original
[02/04/2020] : Found Some Maps