For too long, we Australians have allowed an unsightly festering sore to blight the celebration of our nationhood. The day we Australians currently choose to celebrate as Australia Day has become known as “Invasion Day”. With good reason as well since the first settlers dispossessed the indigenous peoples of their land. Then disease carried by those settlers virtually wiped out the Gadigul people that lived there.
Skin in Both Sides of the Game
I believed myself a multi-generational, middle class, white Australian of British roots. Much like many of my fellow Australians when I was growing up in the Sutherland Shire in the ’60s and ’70s. I accepted and welcomed Australia Day on the 26th of January because it was the last holiday before the start of school or university.
Based upon a family history completed by my late Aunt I had believed that I had an indigenous great grandfather. Based upon this information, and because my Aunt’s family research had been reliable in every other way, I started identifying myself as being of indigenous heritage.
But this not true as I found out when I received the results of an AncestryDNA(R) on 25th Feb. 2022 as shown below. Turns out my original assumption that I was white European was true as evidenced by the DNA, However, the experience of identifying as indigenous has been valuable in seeing the world in a very different way – at least for a while.
What if you wanted to be a modern day Don Quixote and self-publish research direct to the internet with WordPress rather than through a science journal?
I’ll attempt an answer based upon my own journey in section 2 of this article. First of all, you need some basic infrastructure for publishing suitable figures within WordPress. So I’ll spend some time addressing that issue. For publishing on the internet, you need responsive graphics. There is an overlap between interactive graphics (as discussed below)) and responsive graphics.
But the important difference, as I see it, is that responsive graphics should invite the reader to respond to and participate in the story that you’re trying to tell with the graphic element As described later in this article, the scientific literature is often author-centric. Most researchers would be blithely unaware of the importance of responsive web graphics because they publish their most important work in journals.
The charting plugin that I have been using is wpDataTables from TMS plugins provides for publishing data tables and charts from data sources including databases and Excel spreadsheets. In all 31 different types of charts are offered, though many charts have a business focus. Responsive charts for self-published science remains an immature area of focus for technology providers. This is why the review that follows is important.
If you’ve been following The Dossier you’ll know that I’ve been collecting data on the Covid-19 omicron outbreak that we are in the midst of. I’ve made observations that confirm that omicron causes milder symptoms than other forms of Covid-19. But the less severe nature of omicron is offset, at least in part, by omicron being highly transmissible. Even though on average omicron causes less severe symptoms, there is always a percentage of individuals that show more severe symptoms than the average.
This percentage, though small, can easily represent a large number of people presenting to hospitals and requiring treatment in ICU’s across the country.
Indeed, I’ve shown in my article: Further Steep Increases in Covid-19 Cases, observations that there are increased hospitalisations already occurring in NSW as well as a worrying uptick in hospitalisations and deaths in other States and Territories. Given these factors, quantitatively determining the transmissibility of the omicron variant is critical to the management of the current outbreak.
In this article, we’ll attempt to do just that using the Covid-19 data presented in the chart below which shows case numbers for Australian States and Territories over the month ending Friday 7th January. As you can see from this chart, case numbers are showing rapid growth but is that growth exponential?
Australia is now firmly in the grip of the omicron outbreak with accelerating cases in all states and territories except WA as shown in the chart below. The evidence of omicron‘s impact on people’s lives is being seen in the long lines for testing, people becoming frustrated at waiting or being turned away because of early closures of centres over the holidays. People that have been able to get tested have had to wait days for their results to be processed. Others have thought to find rapid antigen testing (RAT) kits only to find that they are difficult or impossible to procure. Many, especially families, are finding that the cost of RAT kits are prohibitive (at $150 plus each). In summary, omicron has become highly disruptive given Government demands for testing compliance but fortunately, the illness itself isn’t as severe as the delta variant from reports so far.
It’s hard to estimate the true number of omicron cases versus delta because the distinction requires genomic sequencing which takes a week or two for results to become known. However, it’s thought that around 80% of cases are omicron in Australia at the moment, with omicron becoming the dominant variant within another week or so..
The charts below show the number of cases, hospitalisations and deaths from Covid-19, respectively. The data are but shown by State and Territory over the month of Dec 2021.
A feature of the Covid-19 data is the accelerating case numbers, as can be seen from comparing the charts shown in The Dossier over the Christmas – New Year period. In the chart immediately below, cases for NSW have almost doubled in one day to 21,151. Cases for all other States and Territories have increased to record levels as well, except for WA.
Today Covid-19 cases were at record levels in all Australian States and Territories except for WA. For NSW, 11201 new cases were recorded today, demonstrating that the apparent levelling cases at around 6000, over the past few days, were an artefact of reduced collections and processing of results over the Christmas period. Indeed, there were likely more Covid-19 circulating over the holiday period than revealed by the published health data (especially in NSW).
Ever since the omicron variant started infecting students and young adults in Gauteng Province in South Africa, it has seemed to be too good to be true: a variant that is much more transmissible (so that it replaces the more dangerous delta variant) but of itself, produces mostly mild symptoms with fewer hospitalisations. Bur omicron is still Covid-19; it hasn’t magically transformed itself into some kind of more friendly disease.
Record numbers of Covid-19 cases in Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and the ACT today. A Levelling of cases in NSW for the 2nd day in a row It’s still a holiday in Australia so cases numbers may be limited by testing centres and opening hours.
The sharp increase noted on Christmas Eve have stabilised somewhat in most States and Territories in Australia over the Christmas weekend though the increase observed increase on Boxing Day was a record for NSW since the pandemic began. The chart below shows the case numbers for Australia over the last month by State or Territory. Although most States showed modest increases these data may have been affected by long lines and more limited collections over the Christmas period. Indeed, many people have reported being turned away from getting tested at all.
With days left before Christmas, there has been a vertical leap upwards in the cases of the Omicron variant: 5715 new cases in one day in New South West; 2005 new cases in Victoria; 484 in South Australia and 369 in Queensland. These are new cases and are recorded in one day. Now it’s important for me to add that a steep increase in base data is expected from overseas’s experience. There’s no reason for undue concern because of the evidence of milder symptoms for Omicron infections than for other variants of Covid-19, despite the sharp increase in transmissibility with Omicron.
The nearly vertical rise in case numbers can be seen from the chart below of cases versus the Month – Year of the pandemic (on the RHS of the chart).
Our Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, has been telling us for some weeks not to worry about case numbers because the nation has double-vaccination rates of near 90% or more. The Federal Government have been saying that