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A Breakdown of COVID in Countries Worldwide

Since the early days of COVID-19 in March, it has been clear that some countries have handled the pandemic better than others. But which countries have overall had the best response to the COVID-19? Well, after looking at each country’s political response, healthcare management and financial policies, it is clear which countries have led the world in the best responses to the pandemic.

As a neighbour of China, where the outbreak began, Taiwan had to act early on. Taiwan’s response has gathered worldwide praise, and rightfully so. In fact, the United States Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar travelled to Taiwan because of their “world-class” response to COVID-19. When there, he reiterated the United States’ support and signed an accord on Monday promising further cooperation on disease control and drug development. As well, Michael Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s health emergencies programme, said in April that Taiwan’s response “deserve[s] praise, they have mounted a very good public health response in Taiwan, and you can see that in the numbers.” Early on, Taiwan quickly closed its borders and banned the exportation of surgical masks. Instead of instituting a lockdown, the government enforced contact tracing and mobile tracking to alert those who had been in contact with someone with COVID-19 and to then make sure that these individuals were quarantining.

While this alone is impressive, Taiwan also managed to keep businesses open. The country took customers’ temperatures and mandated the use of hand sanitizer before entering a business. As well, Taiwan gave much needed global aid to hard-hit countries by exporting all the medical supplies it could spare.

Another key to success, according to Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Wu, were the "daily briefings, every day and sometimes twice a day to brief the population on what was going on in a very transparent way and the people just developed a trust to the government dealing with this matter."

Everything this country has done, to this day, has clearly been extremely successful. The numbers are still extremely low, averaging one to four cases a day. Despite the privacy issues that mobile tracking has raised, Taiwan has truly set an impeccable example for handling a pandemic.

In the early days of the pandemic, you may recall hearing about South Korea’s early, aggressive response. South Korea immediately began developing thousands of COVID-19 tests per day and even exported many tests and medical supplies abroad in the critical early days of the pandemic. Like Taiwan, South Korea did not shut down the economy due to its impressive testing and tracing system for COVID-19 cases. In addition to this, South Korea has provided a sizeable stimulus package and has given cash handouts to most citizens. Already, there have been three stimulus packages. The first included 39 billion dollars that gave emergency funding to small businesses and focused on emergency relief. This would be made out to all households except the top 30 percent by income. The second stimulus package added 69 billion to tackle employment shock around the country. The stimulus package includes a $28.8 billion supplementary budget that will spend money on protecting jobs, developing a vaccine for COVID-19 and providing discount coupons to boost spending.

Until late August, there were very few cases a day. Now, South Korea is facing a rising caseload. While cases stabilized for a while, on November 17th the country had 313 cases. The country has acted fast to enact new restrictions, which, based on their past actions, will hopefully prove successful.

New Zealand has also had an amazing response to the COVID-19 pandemic. While this country did go into lockdown, its lockdown was aggressive, and therefore extremely effective. Less than three weeks after its first case on February 28th, New Zealand shut their border and instituted a “level 4 lockdown”, meaning that people could only interact with others in their household. To help enforce this, the government sent emergency text messages to individuals and held daily press conferences. The government promised early on that no one who lost their job would lose their residence, and almost 17% of the GDP has been put towards keeping jobs and reducing unemployment for the next two years. By June, the country was declared COVID-19 free, proving that aggressive, early actions are the most effective. Since June, there have been new cases only in the single digits, with a few exceptions.

While Germany maintained low numbers as cases worldwide soared in March, since October, cases have been increasing steadily along. Throughout the pandemic, testing has been key to stopping breakouts and controlling the number of cases. As Germany tightens restrictions, thousands have taken to the streets to protest the new restrictions. Conspiracy theories have been a major contributor to the resistance; a common theme in protests globally.

Among the most secretive responses to COVID in the world has been that of Russia’s. As of November 16, more than 33,000 people have died of Covid-19 in Russia. However, Russia has been continuously criticized for their lack of transparency and their unusual system for determining whether the death was caused by COVID-19, and so the real figure is estimated at around 130,000. In August, Russia became the first country to register a coronavirus vaccine. The vaccine was registered even before critical Phase 3 trials had started. This vaccine has not been administered worldwide. Within an already divided country, a non communicative, uncoordinated response to COVID has left the country in shambles.

The USA has had an infamous response to the virus. Led by Donald Trump, the outgoing President, who has spread misinformation to the country and ignored the advice from top medical advisors. In November, an astounding one in four hundred Americans tested positive according to The New York Times. Unlike many other countries who have had similar case numbers, masks are not mandatory in many areas of the country and despite rising numbers there have been no new lockdowns.

In the UK, a tier system has been used to help control outbreaks an impose restrictions. Until late September, the cases had been steady at around 1000 a day. Daily cases now average at around 25000, but with new lockdowns, this number will hopefully be mitigated.

India has the third-highest number of virus cases worldwide, with more than 1.3 million recorded instances of Covid-19 and 32,060 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Italy was among the first countries to have disastrous outbreaks and was centre stage in March. Now, like the rest of the world, they have an increasing number of cases daily. On November 26th, the number of cases was around 2600.

It is clear that there have been many varying approaches taken by different governments around the world to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Managing privacy, personal freedom and health and safety is difficult, and each country has taken a different approach. For now, as cases rise, countries must use science backed facts and the advice of medical professionals to make decisions for their countries. By using the lessons learned from other countries who have successfully flattened the curve and by having world leaders, scientists and medical officials collaborate, our world can, eventually decrease the number of daily cases and return to a better world.

Written by Sophie Block

Designed by Jeia So

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