The coronavirus outbreak has been described as the most significant threat to population, health, political and economic stability in a generation. Hence, countries were expected to take measures enabling them to act quickly and decisively to curb the pandemic. These measures include easy and efficient access to testing and results, rigorous contact tracing, consistent science-based messaging, quarantines and a genuine commitment to clamping down on socializing. Here are some of the countries who rose to the challenge and set these measures in place:
Taiwan wins the award for the most proactive country in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. Unlike other countries, the island country was attentive enough to learn early about the outbreak in Wuhan. Immediately, they set up heavy impenetrable measures to avert the outbreak. From early inspections of passengers aboard Wuhan flights, early contact tracing and fact-finding missions; Taiwan stands to teach the world a thing or two about fighting a global pandemic. (ALSO READ: Covid-19: How Taiwan Dealt With The Pandemic Before It Even Started.)
The country was able to put its excellent health system into good use and fast. It commenced strict virus testing, tracing and containment programs. Fortunately, the country not only has a small population but citizens are very accepting of government directives.
The rulers of the Arab country have maintained regular communication with their citizens, to ease tensions. The country has set aside a 100-billion-Dirham stimulus package to offset the economic slowdown. Moreso, it offered advisories and a fortified healthcare system to combat the pandemic. The government even boasts of its ability to supply residents with all the food and help they need.
Canada became the first country to boycott the Tokyo Olympics on 23 March. The Canadian Olympic Committee and Canadian Paralympic Committee called on the International Olympic Committee to postpone the event due to take place this summer, saying the global health crisis was “more significant than sport”. On 16 March, the country closed its borders to anyone who was not a citizen or permanent resident.
On 18 March, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison declared a national human biosecurity emergency and announced new measures including an indefinite new ban on indoor groups of 100 people or more, with exemptions for schools, public transport, universities, prisons, courts, supermarkets and worksites. The continent also banned entry to anyone from mainland China, Korea, Iran and Italy.
India has quarantined itself for a month, restricting entry to UN officials and other diplomats. The country received praise from the WHO for taking “fast and aggressive” action to limit the spread, including encouraging social distancing. Dr Henk Bekedam, the WHO’s representative in India, revealed that the coronavirus cases in the country were all “traceable” and there was no evidence yet of community transmission or a higher unofficial patient count.
The world-power is seemingly more concerned with the economics of things as it is set to release a $2 trillion economic stimulus plan. Additionally, US President Donald Trump stunned his European allies by announcing a ban on travel from the EU’s Schengen area from 13 March. Days later, the ban was expanded to include the UK, Ireland and several other countries. Also, the US has urged people to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people,
On March 13, Prime Minister Elyes Fakhfakh announced the suspension of all flights to Italy and ordered mandatory self-isolation of 14 days for all those arriving in the country. Cafes, restaurants and bars close by 4 pm, and collective prayers in the mosques were suspended. The country’s borders were closed except for commercial or repatriation purposes. The government banned gatherings in crowded places and suspended all sports events. Interestingly, Workdays were shortened to only five hours.
Switzerland swiftly tightened border controls with its neighbours. Geneva closed commercial activities and banned meetings of more than five people, as well as religious services. The Geneva Red Cross was also activated and deployed to help those most in need.
Firstly, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu closed Israel’s borders to all foreigners. Then he announced that the country’s highly secretive Shin Bet internal security service would deploy highly sophisticated counter-terrorism technology to help curb the spread of COVID-19 in Israel. The agency’s capabilities are normally used to track Palestinian militants. Since the technology had never been used before on civilians, it would involve a certain degree of violation of privacy. However, the goal was still in line with its overall mission of “saving lives. The Prime Minister approved its use for 30 days.