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

Ten Countries With The Worst Covid Outbreaks

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Ten Countries With The Worst Covid Outbreaks

“Only if we end the pandemic everywhere, can we end the pandemic anywhere.”Unknown

The world has the same goal – to end this pandemic and go back to whatever normal is. Viruses don’t respect borders. These countries share the fact that at the start of the outbreak, they tested little relative to their size. Our healthcare systems are not equipped to handle thousands of people getting sick at the same time, so more people are dying in these countries. The governments in all these countries downplayed the severity of the virus, fumbled lockdowns, and instead of science used magical thinking in the hopes of ending the outbreak.  The numbers change rapidly but at the moment, here are the countries with the worst outbreaks in order. The numbers are from December 21.They will be higher by the time you read this.

10. Iran 1,164,535 cases 53,816 deaths

The difference between Iran and other countries experiencing a surge in the virus is the “maximum pressure” sanctions put on them by Donald Trump.  The Iranian government and doctors insist they don’t have enough medicines to fight the virus. Though the sanctions technically exempt food and medical supplies, human rights reports from Iran have repeatedly emphasized the impact of sectoral sanctions on gaining access to essential medicines and medical equipment, including respirators and protective equipment for health-care workers. Experts say US sanctions on Iran are indeed hurting ”foreign reserves, foreign currency abroad to purchase the necessary medical equipment — masks, anything that it might need to take care of its population,” Sanam Vakil.

9. Mexico 1,320,545 cases 118,202 deaths

One quarter of Mexico’s population has been exposed to Covid 19. The government thinks the real number is even higher than the reported numbers. The blame is on the country’s under funded health care system, lack of adequate testing,  and complicated effort to track the disease and coordinate the response. There was a voluntary lockdown from March to June but because of Mexico’s high poverty level many had to work and so the numbers went up. There has been no mask mandate. Some say it is to downplay the pandemic and some Mexican States have imposed their own mask mandate.

8. Spain 1,817,448 cases 48,926 deaths

Spain has been in a state of emergency since the end of October. The prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, has asked people to drastically curtail their social lives and limit their movements for the common good. Silvia Calzón, Spain’s secretary of state for health, urged people to act wisely and avoid large crowds. Spain is reluctant to blame its citizens for early on having the most cases in Europe, but they feel the increase is do to young people partying and socializing. Spain has a similar problem to the US where the Covid safety regulations have been left to the different regions.

 7. Italy 1,964,054 cases 68,099 deaths

At the moment Italy holds a record that no-one wants – the most corona deaths in Europe. Italy was the first country in Europe to be slammed with Covid and had the benefit of time and experience to be better prepared for the second wave. Italy waited too long to reimpose restrictions  and reinforce its medical community. Nearly 80,000 Italian health care workers have been infected and 255 doctors have died. Instead, on Nov. 3 the government divided the country into three risk zones with varying restrictions. But by then infections had been doubling each week for nearly a month and hospitals were already overwhelmed in Milan and Naples.

6. Turkey 2,043,704 cases 18,351 deaths

As with all the countries where the virus is highest, Turkey waited too long to impose Covid 19 restrictions. Now children under the age of 20 can go outside for three hours a day and have school on Zoom. People over the age of 65 can go out for a different three hours. The elderly and the young are banned from public transportation. There is a curfew. Many are angry about how the government mismanaged the crisis. The government played down the virus and sugar coated the numbers not counting the asymptomatic ones which were high.

5. UK 2,073,511 cases 67,616 deaths

The four countries of the UK are trying to avoid a spike over the Christmas holidays. They want to ease things up between Dec 23-27 with rules like only a single person household can visit another home. People living in the UK will be allowed to form a Christmas bubble of up to three households. Households can only be in one bubble and may not switch. London has moved from High Alert to Very High Alert and bars and restaurants will remain closed. Outdoor groupings must be limited to six people. The virus is accelerating and the hope is not to lose more and more people as the vaccine is being rolled out. 

4. Russia 2,877,727 cases 51,351 deaths

As Russia struggles to get the virus under control, videos released of morgues piled high with bodies and hospitals that look like war zones, suggest the numbers are much higher than released. The way they count the Covid deaths, are different than the World Health organization guidelines which states that all deaths related to Covid-19 should be counted. Though the government portrays a country in full control of the pandemic, the strain on the medical facilities is becoming obvious to the Russian people. 

3. Brazil 7,241,612 cases 186,818 deaths

Fueled by the untimely political disputes, Covid 19 spread like wildfire in Brazil. Amid the controversy, Brazilian research disproved the theory that hydrochloroquine was helpful in treating the virus. Brazil was unprepared for the second wave of the virus and the hospitals are full with queues of patients lined up outside for beds. Bolsonaro has consistently downplayed the novel coronavirus as a “little flu” and said recently was at the “tail end of the pandemic.” Sound familiar? Brazil has the second largest death toll in the world from Covid 19.

 2. India 10,075,036 cases 146,134 deaths

Tens of millions of migrant workers were stranded without work or food after Prime Minister Narendra Modi  imposed a lockdown in March. By spring and summer, these workers were so desperate that the government provided emergency trains to carry them back to their home villages. They became virus trains and due to lack of testing and social distancing these trains brought the virus all over India to places where it had not appeared before. The government never adequately contemplated how  shutting down the economy and quarantining 1.3 billion people would cause desperation,  panic and  chaos for millions of migrant workers at the heart of Indian industry. Experts agree that the spread in rural areas, home to more than half of the population, is a challenge to both fight and monitor. The health infrastructure in these areas is weaker, making it harder to treat patients and testing isn’t easily available in many small towns and villages. 

1. US 18,312,007 cases 325,187 deaths

We are number one – in both deaths and number of cases. Few countries have been as severely hit as America has. The world watched as the US – once a model for government competence and health care, fumbled the response to the Corona Virus. Despite ample warning, immense resources, medical and scientific expertise, it floundered. The world listened in shock as our President talked about drinking disinfectant. When people in third world countries emerged from lockdown and began partying, they saw that Americans in certain states did the same. Almost everything that went wrong with America’s response was predictable and preventable.

Stay safe,

JAZ