COVID-19: be wary of postcode data
3rd April 2020
Quite a few people have contacted me about the postcode breakdowns of confirmed COVID-19 cases that are getting around on Facebook and in some media reports.
Please understand that these figures are misleading as they are NOT an accurate reflection of how many positive cases are actually living in a postcode area.
The figures can also cause unnecessary panic and concern, and that’s the last thing we need right now.
The figures are not supplied to me or any other MP but are being extracted from a government data website which is publicly available to anyone who wants to check it (data.nsw.gov.au), but people need to understand what they’re looking at.
The data might say that 28 people in the 2283 postcode area have the coronavirus, but the vast majority of those people are in hospital, quarantined in a Sydney hotel room or in another care facility. Some are certainly at home in isolation, but they are the minority.
On the flipside, we have one local postcode that has recorded zero cases. NSW Health, local police and myself are concerned that the figure will make people in that postcode area more complacent. More importantly, that doesn’t mean there are no cases in that community. It’s highly likely that undiagnosed cases do exist.
NSW Health currently publishes data every day which shows how many people who normally live in the council area have the virus. But again, that doesn’t mean they’re currently residing in the area.
I can only keep saying the same thing as NSW Health, NSW Police and all the other expert agencies: assume that everyone in your local area has the virus, or assume that you have the virus, and practice all the common sense hygiene and social distancing rules. If you follow those, there is no great need for panic or hysteria.
I hope that explains things.
Please stay safe, stay well, stay properly informed from reliable sources, and stay at home unless you have to make an essential trip to work, the doctor’s or supermarket.