SEATTLE, Washington — The international response to the COVID-19 pandemic has thus far been uneven. While some nations continue to struggle to contain the virus, others have seen a greater measure of success in their efforts. Although the reasons for this cannot be wholly attributed to any single factor; however, all of these more successful nations do share one key thing in common: they have acted swiftly and thoroughly in implementing restrictions. From Vietnam to Finland, here are five countries that are handling COVID-19 well.
As of July 6, 2020, Vietnam has reported zero deaths from Coronavirus and only 369 cases nationwide. Most impressively, this comes despite sharing a land border with China. Experts attribute Vietnam’s excellent management of the pandemic to its prior experience in dealing with SARS. Knowing the potential danger, Vietnamese authorities implemented protective lockdown measures rapidly and decisively. This included restricting travel and commerce as well as placing a particular emphasis on tracing cases of the virus. As a result, Vietnam has garnered serious praise for its handling of COVID-19.
Germany’s handling of the crisis has been swift, effective and decisive. Germany instituted a six-week shut-down, which quelled the spread of the disease to great effect. Additionally, Germany’s track-and-trace system has been precise and accurate. Six weeks from the time Germany announced it was taking measures to deal with the outbreak, German authorities announced that the spread of the virus was under control. Recognizing and intercepting chains of disease spread through the track-and-trace system, along with swift and serious lockdown, produced good results. Though Germany was the ninth-worst-hit country, with 183,508 cases recorded by June 1, the country has had a low death-rate; only 8,546 of infected people have died.
Due to its proximity to China and overpopulation, Taiwan faced great risk when the COVID-19 outbreak hit China. The government acted quickly to test, contain and restrict travel. The use of technology to track and report on peoples’ whereabouts and test-status proved useful. Previously dealing with SARS and MERS, the government of Taiwan established several public health organizations specific to crisis response. The National Health Command Center (NHCC) and the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) are two such institutions helping Taiwan keep COVID-19 under control. As of July 8, there were 449 cases and only seven deaths.
As of May 9, 2020, New Zealand reported lower than 1,500 cases of COVID-19 and 20 deaths. This is largely thanks to prime minister Jacinda Ardern’s rapid response and implementation of a lockdown when there were only 102 cases and no deaths. With widespread testing based on statistical data, monitoring the virus proved effective. The Ministry of Health is considering whether testing should be increased in communities that are at a higher risk of spread, such as communities with vast populations of healthcare workers and elderly individuals. “The official response here has been guided by the principle that you do not stigmatise and that we unite against COVID-19,” says Siouxsie Wiles in an article by The Lancet. The main question is when and how to re-open borders safely. The careful and concerned approach of New Zealand authorities makes it one of five countries handling COVID-19 well.
Stockpiling is one of the main reasons Finland is one of five countries handling COVID-19 well. During the Cold War era, Finland amassed large reserves of medical equipment. During the time of COVID-19, this equipment placed Finland at a considerable advantage compared to countries without stockpiles of medical equipment. Helsinki, Finland’s capital with a population of approximately 1.5 million people, handled the crisis very effectively. In partnership with NGOs, Helsinki acted to protect its most vulnerable populations, including the elderly and the homeless. The implementation of speedy and strict restrictions on commerce and travel proved successful.
Each of these five countries handling COVID-19 well demonstrates good leadership and careful, decisive action. Though the crisis will presumably continue for the foreseeable future, effective leadership demonstrates the possibility of protecting as many people as possible from the ravages of the virus.
– Elise Ghitman
Photo: Wikimedia Commons