The Australian state of Victoria has achieved a remarkable reduction in Covid-19 case numbers after a lengthy period of restrictions.

To put this achievement in context – Australia has done what very few countries have achieved in effectively suppressing a second-wave outbreak from a high point of more than 700 new cases a day. Victoria has now recorded only two cases in three days and lockdown restrictions are being eased.

Here’s a visual comparison of Australia’s epidemic curve compared with a number of other countries, scaled to make comparing the shape of curves easier:

Singapore has also managed to achieve a similar reduction in numbers, while South Korea has brought numbers from the mid-300s down to less than 100 new cases a day. Japan has roughly halved daily cases from the peak of its second wave, and Vietnam has also suppressed a second wave but from a much lower peak due to its earlier, effective control of the virus.

In Europe, a number of countries which all had similar figures to Australia for new cases per million people in and around August, have had significant increases in cases over the past few months:

Daily new cases are now over 10,000 in several European countries, including the UK, France and Italy, and things are particularly bad in the Czech Republic.

There are, of course, many reasons why direct comparisons between countries is not necessarily straightforward – not all countries are aiming to suppress the virus in the same way from a policy point of view, and there are some obvious differences in geography affecting numbers and the ability of countries to implement border control measures.

And while Victoria’s success in addressing the second wave is notable, health experts and the Victorian government are taking a cautious approach to lifting restrictions.

Prof Brendan Crabb, the chief executive of medical research non-profit the Burnet Institute, told the Melbourne newspaper the Age: “No one is under any illusion that we’re a bit of bad luck and bad judgment away from trouble.

“By the same token we have to live, we have to get our society going, so that’s a really nuanced and tricky balance and I think that’s being wrestled really well at the moment.”

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