Ten Countries With The Best Response To Covid 19

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   Ten Countries With The Best Response To Covid 19

“The virus is cleverer than us, the virus is running faster than us.”  Dr. Li Ailan 

The one thing that the countries that seem to be doing better at controlling the virus have in common is that their governments, healthcare, and science are working together. Early action, testing, and contact tracing were key steps in controlling the virus. It is a very different approach than the countries with leaders who are using the crisis to accelerate their authoritarianism by blaming the “others”, demonizing journalists, and blanketing their countries in “I will never leave” darkness. Here are some countries in order from most to least cases with success stories. The numbers are from December 26.

Denmark 151,167 cases 1,153 deaths

Denmark’s response to the pandemic was “act fast and act with force.” Denmark is a peninsula and only shares one border with Germany. It was still one of the first country’s to close its border and have a national lockdown. Denmark immediately banned large public gatherings, closed down all unnecessary venues across its cities, heavily discouraged the use of public transportation and all manner of travel unless absolutely essential. Daycares, schools, and universities were very quickly shut down and air travel was severely restricted. Their entire free health care system was able to prioritize and reorganize medical departments, isolation wards, and hospital beds, as well as doctors and nurses, to be optimally prepared to isolate and treat admitted patients. The Danish people have complete trust in their government and politicians. There were no conspiracy theories or widespread panic surrounding the virus. They acted responsibly and followed the rules.

Singapore 58,519 cases 29 deaths

Timely preparation, aggressive testing, tracing of carriers helped limit the impact of Covid-19 in Singapore. The city-state’s comparatively small population of 5.7 million people and experience of SARS in 2003 gave it the upper hand against the encroaching virus. The government tightened border controls almost immediately after the disease first erupted in China – while also providing a clear public communication strategy. 

South Korea 56,872 cases 808 deaths

The government of South Korea has been able to keep the disease under control without paralyzing the national health and economic systems. The critical factors in South Korea’s public health administration and management that led to success include national infectious disease plans, collaboration with the private sector, stringent contact tracing, an adaptive health care system, and government-driven communication.

Australia  28,308 cases 908 deaths

 Australia put their faith in science to get the pandemic under control. They formed a National Cabinet comprised of the leaders of each state and territory and the Prime Minister to resolve differences and put the necessary restrictions in place. National cooperation was further enhanced by working with the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee. In March they closed their borders and issued a two-week quarantine. Australians were quick to comply. 

Uruguay 16,218 cases 147 deaths

Less than two weeks into his new job as Uruguay’s president, Luis Lacalle Pou acted promptly when Uruguay’s first case of covid-19 was confirmed in the capital of Montevideo on March thirteenth. Unlike most Latin American presidents, Lacalle Pou shut down schools and businesses but asked rather than ordered people to stay at home to protect the population, the oldest in Latin America. Subsidies for small businesses were financed in part by a reduction of politician and executive-level public servants’ salaries, as well as by contributions made by business and social organizations. The swift action of the government slowed the spread of the virus and bought the country vital time to prepare its hospitals and testing system, says the team of scientists advising it. It also meant they could stop the virus’s spread before it became exponential as it did in the hardest-hit nations. The alignment of decision-makers, scientists, and national health authorities was perfect and clearly with great timing,” says Gonzalo Moratorio, a virologist directing Uruguay’s covid-19 testing unit. Early testing and contact tracing were key. The strategy of appealing to citizens’ sense of responsibility with measured restrictions has proven successful. 

  Iceland 5,683 cases 28 deaths

Although it is a small country with a population of 360,000 people, Iceland emerged as one of the leaders in controlling the virus. They immediately had a regiment of testing. contact-tracing and isolation, as well as genetic sequencing of the virus. On a per-capita basis, no country has done more testing They started screening in January a month before the first case arrived for high-risk people and anyone else who wanted to test. They took samples of the virus from every person infected to check for mutations.  The widespread screening helped them pick out asymptomatic people who might have been spreading the virus.

New Zealand 2,144 cases  25 deaths

New Zealand started in February 2020  to identify cases and chains of transmission of the virus before it infected vulnerable populations. They did widespread testing, contact tracing, isolating infected cases, and quarantined their contacts. New Zealand has strict border control policies for produce and plants and immediately implemented them for people as well. They had a very stringent five-week lockdown in March. Rapid, science-based risk assessment linked to early, decisive government action was the difference between New Zealand and the countries where the virus spreads out of control.

 Viet Nam 1,440 cases 35 deaths

Viet Nam shares a border with China and moved quickly. With the help of the World Health Organization, Viet Nam already had an emergency health plan in place. They had 16 cases in February and imposed a three-week quarantine in those places. There were no more cases. In March a case came in from the UK. They closed the borders. Both the military and local governments were mobilized to provide testing, meals, and amenity services to all and quarantine facilities which remained free during this period. There was never a nationwide lockdown, people were advised to stay home and some restrictive physical distancing measures were implemented throughout the country. Masks were mandatory.  The Vietnamese public had been exceptionally compliant with government directives and advice, partly as a result of trust built up thanks to real-time, transparent communication from the Ministry of Health, supported by the WHO and other UN agencies. A COVID-19 song was released, with lyrics raising public awareness of the disease, which later went viral on social media with a dance challenge on Tik Tok initiated by Quang Dang, a local celebrity. (I love this)

Taiwan 783  cases  7 deaths

Taiwan was hit badly with SARS in 2003 and so as soon as a few cases of Covid 19 were identified in January, they were wearing masks. They had a public health response mechanism already in place to respond to the next pandemic.  Taiwan has a world-class health system with universal coverage which moved quickly to respond to the threat. They immediately implemented a travel ban to China. Medical officials held daily public briefings with instructions to prevent the spread of the virus. They were able to stop the spread of Covid 19 without a lockdown because they started in January when the Western World did not.

 Cambodia 363 case 0 deaths 

In the first few months, Cambodia detected and managed 122 cases and avoided widespread community-level transmission. With the support of WHO and partners, Cambodia has made important investments over the last ten years in its health security system that allowed it to successfully respond to the initial outbreak of COVID-19. A whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach, along with vigilant surveillance, laboratory, rapid response teams, and good collaboration between the Ministry of Health and technical partners have all contributed to Cambodia’s successful response. They are better prepared for the second wave than they were ten months ago but like everywhere people have pandemic fatigue and need to work.

Today alone Los Angeles recorded 30,000 new cases and 150 new deaths. I am so angry right now. Nations as poor as Cambodia and Viet Nam moved quickly and listened to the science and health care professionals and the greatest country in the world did not. All this death could have been avoided.

Please stay safe,

JAZ

Best Countries For Expats Part 2

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Best Countries For Expats Part 2

“You are never too old to set another goal, or dream a new dream.” C.S.Lewis

Australia seems like a perfect place to live – beautiful weather, shrimp on the barbie and kangaroos. Australians speak English and they are friendly and helpful. They have good health care and the outdoor lifestyle is similar to California. Australian TV is like American not British TV.  Some of the natural beauty, plants and wildlife are only indigenous to Australia.  Sporting events are easy to find but outside of Sydney and Melbourne, theatre and ballet are scarce. There are 1500 species of spiders, 6000 species of flies, 4000 species of ants and 350 species of termites in Australia. Finding creepy crawly things in your home is common. I can not picture myself eating or offering a vegemite sandwich.  The cost of living like in New Zealand is very high. Flying back to America is expensive and a  long flight. LIving so far away, I will miss my friends and family and a lot of events here. 

Costa Rica feels like California with a rainforest. It has a steady democracy that spends its money on education instead of the military, A million Americans visit every year, and they have put those dollars back into infrastructure — reliable airports, deluxe highways, huge conservation districts — that make the country easy to get around and easy to enjoy. It has volcanoes, mountains and beaches. It is closer to the US than other countries we are considering which makes travel easier. My Spanish would definitely improve. Crime is a problem. If you have nice stuff or appear to have nice stuff, someone will try to steal it. There are no addresses, so if you need something mailed down, you might have to wait for a friend to bring it in a suitcase. Tourist visas are a cinch but residency can be slow going for anyone who’s not working for a big company. Foreigners have already snatched up most of the property bargains.

Warm weather, great food and “La Dolce Vita” are all good reasons to move to Italy. Every Italian city is basically a huge museum with historic buildings on every corner. The midday siesta is still a thing which is great for me because I can nap anywhere at 3:00 PM.  Real estate prices are good for Americans though many of those old beautiful houses are “fixer uppers”. Italy is not the best country for people who like big cars. It is easier to navigate the narrow cobblestone streets with  a small car or motorbike. The cost of living in the cities is expensive but there are many towns that aren’t.   The health care system is good  and if you can get into the public system, good healthcare is free.

Living in Spain sounds like a dream. I imagine a sunny climate, natural beauty,  cobblestone streets with flamenco music playing in the background, while I sip sangria and eat tapas at a local bar. The cost of living is lower than other parts of Europe. Things move slowly in Spain. When going to the post office, bank, restaurants and shops expect to wait.  Spanish bureaucracy is notoriously slow.  The regional politics are complicated and everything shuts down in the afternoon. Don’t plan on getting anything done in August. The whole country is at the beach.

Israel’s economy is very strong and the standard of living is high. There is amazing food and beautiful weather as well. Any Jew can move to Israel freely. Tel Aviv is the most expensive city in the Middle East and the cost of real estate is high. English is widely spoken here and health care is great. For a small strip of land, the cultures in different areas are diverse.We have already spent a month living in Tel Aviv so I know I could do it.  Everybody smokes which is a problem for me. Everything is closed from Friday sundown to Saturday sundown so that takes some getting used to. Sunday is Monday.  Living in Israel is living in constant fear of terrorist attacks. Lately living in America is the same with constant fear of random shootings. 

Stay safe,
JAZ