University of Sydney researchers have developed a new searchable database that allows people, for the first time, to compare how many COVID-19 cases there are in every NSW postcode with each suburb’s socioeconomic status and age profile.
“We created this database to provide some further transparency to the public, who may be feeling anxious about seeing the number of cases rising and want a postcode breakdown so they can see exactly what’s happening in their area,” said the University of Sydney’s Associate Professor Adam Kamradt-Scott, who has research expertise on Australia’s pandemic preparedness.
“We also wanted to provide further evidence to support NSW Health making decisions and giving advice to government.”
Dr Kamradt-Scott said overlaying the case numbers with data on which suburbs have the highest proportion of people over 60 was important, as this cohort is at greatest risk.
“But socioeconomic status is also important,” he said.
“We know from previous public health research that people with lower socioeconomic status can have poorer health outcomes: they may struggle to access care, diet and nutrition may be a factor, these areas tend to have higher levels of smokers. These factors can have an influence on the prognosis if they get infected with the SARS-COV-2 virus.”
“So if there appears to be a new cluster of cases where there’s a lower socioeconomic status combined with a higher proportion of people over 60, it could mean, for example, that NSW Health could prioritise services and testing to that community.”
Dr Kamradt-Scott said his team began with NSW because that data was most readily available but they were keen to collaborate with other jurisdictions to provide the same detailed breakdown for other states and territories.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian this week said there would be increased testing in the Sydney suburbs of Penrith, Inner west, Liverpool, Randwick, Waverley, Woollahra, Blacktown, Cumberland, Westmead, Ryde, Manning and Lake Macquarie.
“We’re urging anybody in those high risk categories, anybody who specifically lives in those suburbs that were identified, if you have any symptoms, please come forward and get tested,” she said.