• Wednesday, Jul 15, 2020
  • Last Update : 05:33 pm

What are the policies succeeding against coronavirus?

  • Published at 02:25 pm June 2nd, 2020
Japan-coronavirus
Passengers wearing protective face masks walk at a subway station amid the coronavirus outbreak in Tokyo, Japan on May 27, 2020 Reuters

There have been 6,384,205 cases registered in 213 countries and territories

The number of those infected with novel coronavirus has exploded around the world in last month.

The pandemic has killed 377,797 people worldwide since it surfaced in China late last year, according to a tally at 2pm on Tuesday, based on official sources.

There have been 6,384,205 cases registered in 213 countries and territories.

Few countries have capably dealt with the outbreak and the ones which have are still at high risk of losing control of the virus. Factors both in and out of the control of individual countries have influenced their different outcomes so far.

Dhaka Tribune tried to analyze the issue.

Early testing

Testing is the window onto the coronavirus outbreak. The central metric for understanding how the virus is spreading – the number of confirmed cases – consists of all those people who have tested positively.

Countries who have managed to contain their outbreak, and were able to keep the number of infections low, need to perform fewer tests to adequately monitor the outbreak than those countries where the virus has spread more widely.

Countries that rolled out good diagnostics in January - including South Korea and Germany - have managed their crises comparably well, since it enabled policy makers to react quickly to the growing threat and convinced people of the danger at hand.

The picture was grimmer for countries that failed to put early testing into effect, including the US. There, the virus spread largely unchecked through February.

Complete lockdown

While "lockdown" isn't a technical term used by public-health officials, it can refer to anything from mandatory geographic quarantines to non-mandatory recommendations to stay at home, closures of certain types of businesses, or bans on events and gatherings.

The island nations such as Japan, Iceland, New Zealand and Australia to reduce new daily confirmed cases to extremely low numbers by fully isolating themselves.

The number of visitors to Japan, for example, fell 99.9% in April compared to a year ago. It remains to be seen whether infections will remain so low when these countries start allowing more arrivals.

China, where the pandemic began, acted swiftly and curbed its outbreak. But in re-opening its economy, it’s had to take special precautions to prevent case spillovers along its borders with Russia, which has one of the biggest outbreaks in Europe, and North Korea, which has yet to report any infections.

Healthcare preparedness

Health system preparedness critical to slowing spread of coronavirus, infectious disease experts say.

All countries must do more to ensure they have fundamental preparedness measures in place. These measures include ensuring enough medical staff is trained and available at health facilities and that there is enough personal protective equipment like masks and gloves to protect health workers.

Countries must also work to improve how vulnerable populations including the elderly and the poor access health care.

In Brazil, where cases have soared, the public health system was already under strain before the pandemic, and the country has been unable to form a coherent strategy to stop the spread.

In Taiwan, by contrast, a combination of early health screening for arrivals to the country, thorough testing and contact tracing, and widespread medical mask usage has brought new domestic infections close to zero.

Strong-arm tactics

China raised eyebrows globally when it locked down tens of millions of people in January to stanch the spread of the virus. The effort worked, and was soon copied by countries on other continents.

As China re-opens, it’s raising eyebrows again - with measures most countries probably will deem too intrusive.

Technology 

The rapid spread of Covid-19 has forced countries to use every trick in the book to contain the disease.

Asian countries have used a range of technologies in their fight against the pandemic, raising questions about excessive surveillance and the violation of citizens’ privacy.

For example, Chinese authorities use data from government departments, phone carriers, locations and transactions to assign citizens a color-coded risk level.

Trust in government

Less than half of Americans trust the government to take care of their health, according to a global survey, exposing a potential obstacle for a country that the World Health Organization warns could become the new epicenter of the novel coronavirus.

Trust is critical in combating epidemics, experts say, and a global pandemic such as the coronavirus is no exception.

The credibility of policy makers matters at a time when citizens are flooded with news, scientific research and often conflicting messages about how to support both public health and the economy.

Countries with lower levels of trust in authorities are especially vulnerable to conspiracy theories.

Distrust of the government in Iran, after it lied to cover up the military’s mistaken downing of a civilian airliner January 8, led citizens to ignore directives not to travel during the Persian New Year, in late March.

Meanwhile, trust in the government is high in Germany and South Korea.

The same is true in Singapore, which had early success containing the virus that was set back by an outbreak among foreign workers.

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