While the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has been strongly associated with China, other parts of the world have now been impacted much more severely. So which places have been worst affected by coronavirus?
Italy and Spain have both suffered more cases, more deaths and a much higher death rate than China. In the United States, New York City metropolitan area alone has had more coronavirus cases and more deaths than China and most other countries in the world.
There have now been 19,468 people die of Covid-19 in Italy. The rate of fatalities per case is 12.8%. In Spain, there have been 16,606 deaths, with 10.2% fatality rate.
Between New York City and New Jersey, an area of around 17 million people (compared to Spain’s 47 million and Italy’s 60 million), there have been 7,921 deaths, and a fatality rate of 5.05%.
Why have Italy, Spain and New York suffered so badly from Covid-19?
There are many different factors to consider. Italy was disadvantaged by being one of the first countries outside East Asia to be contaminated with the virus. Its political leaders have also been criticised for their initial nonchalance in response to the pandemic.
But another way of looking at it is population density. Seven out of the 10 most densely populated cities in Europe are in Italy and Spain. And the New York Metropolitan Area is the most densely populated city in North America after Mexico City.
This helps explain why the virus spread so quickly in these areas, as opposed to major urban areas that are more spread out like Sydney, Toronto and Houston.
Cities like Madrid, Milan, Barcelona and New York were also some of the first to urbanize on a modern scale. Working- and middle-class people in these cities tend to live in small apartments in buildings that can be 100 years old or more, rather than spread out in the suburbs as in Australia and North America.
Add to the mix relatively poor health systems by OECD standards and you have a recipe for disaster. At 2.6 doctors per 100,000 people, the USA has roughly the same number of doctors per person as Mexico and Poland.
Italy and Spain have a little over the OECD average number of doctors (keep in mind the OECD now include Indonesia, India, Brazil and Colombia). But these countries have only around 64% of the OECD average when it comes to nurses per person.
Surprisingly, the US health system employs many more nurses per person than the OECD average, and roughly twice as many nurses per person as Italy and Spain. They’re probably the reason the fatality rate in New York has been kept within the limits it has.
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