Yikes! & Yay!

Some countries paid a price and beat back a spreading pandemic. Others refused to pay up front, and are paying the price now.

This speech by the World Health Organization’s director general breaks down the global approach to combatting COVID-19, and is quick, clear, and easy to ready.

Both China and Iran initially hid data of the extent of its COVID-19 cases, the WHO believes. This made research to understand the virus and discover a cure less effective. It also led to a significant death toll. Italy, which has half as many confirmed cases than China but more confirmed deaths due to its late action, is now on lockdown. The three countries have the highest number of confirmed cases and, as of March 19, a combined estimate of more than 8,000 dead. (Since then, China has stepped up its isolation tactics and is showing positive signs in both treating patients and reducing new caseloads.)

It’s not all doom, however. Singapore, a major Chinese trading partner, was one of the earliest countries to have confirmed cases. So it went all-in on prevention: “The key features: quick action, extensive testing, and relentless tracking,” said MIT’s Technology Review.

Likewise, South Korea was on a bad trajectory, until it initiated massive testing, tracking, and isolation.

“At the peak there were more than 800 cases, and today the report was only 90 cases,” WHO Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said March 18. “WHO is working in solidarity with other countries with community transmission to apply the lessons learned in Korea and elsewhere, and adapt them to the local context.”