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

To Mask Or Not To Mask – That Is The Political Question

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To Mask Or Not To Mask – That Is The Political Question

“Nothing is more real than the masks we make to show each other who we are.” Christopher Barzak

i was unprepared for the quarantine. I was still packing the weekend before for a trip to Arizona. Yes, we were in the empty market and getting help from more prepared friends and family.

But what I did have were masks. I am allergic to smoke and pollution. I have always been told that masks won’t save me around a fire because the particles of smoke are too small and get through the masks.

The only thing paper masks are protection for, the doctors would tell me, are germs. That is why doctors wear them. I still have them because they are a line of defense against smokers and pollution. I have different kinds, including N95, in the hopes that someone invents something besides a gas mask that will work for me. It looks like, I have been preparing my whole life for this virus.

If  you have a cold or allergies in Japan, you wear a mask so you don’t pass it on to other people. I was there during the bird flu scare and everyone wore masks. There were no laws or fines, you just put on a mask out of of respect for yourself and others

. I didn’t get the bird flu nor did a lot of people because everyone was taking precautions. (They did kill a lot of birds.) I’ve seen first hand that masks work.

Trump doesn’t wear a mask. He gets tested every day for the virus and it is a test where he gets the results quickly. We had to wait several days for results when we needed testing. I’m sure there is a ventilator and a doctor on call at the White House should something happen. He does not have to worry, as most people do, if there is room in a hospital for him should he need that.

Now he is taking hydroquinine preventively. My chemical and smoke sensitivities are autoimmune related. My doctor recommended hydroquinine.  He said it had a 10 or 20 per cent chance of working on what I have and I had to be on it for a year to see if it worked. I got some more medical opinions. I decided the odds were too low and the side effects too many to be on it for a year. Hydroquinine is also a malaria drug. The fact that the president would take a strong immune illness drug with side effects, that might work in case he gets the virus, instead of suggesting masks is crazy to me.

The beach near where I live opened last week. Three quarters of the people who come here are not wearing masks. It feels unsafe to me now on the weekends so I don’t go out.

It is frustrating because most of the people don’t live here and may behave differently in their own neighborhoods. I’m sure they put on masks if they visit their parents.  They are biking and jogging, not wearing shirts and sweating. The bikers are not social distancing.

On the beach they run in and out of the water unaware of people walking by. It certainly does not appear to be as mandatory here as other parts of LA..

The mask is being seen as a symbol of blindly submitting to government authority or taking a political stance to some, and a sign of safety and compassion to others. It seems to be about people’s age and individual tolerance of risk. Since we don’t know if we are carrying the virus and we don’t know what immune deficiencies other people have, why is it so difficult for Americans in this unprecedented time, to behave with politeness and kindness towards others and wear a mask?  We all want this to be over.

Stay safe,
JAZ