When the corona outbreak hit Earth, China, Italy, and Iran got the biggest blows with thousands of their citizens killed. However, Singapore, Taiwan, and Hong Kong were among those that took the lowest damage despite their proximity to China. Do you know what these Asian countries did to keep the virus wandering almost useless? Here are a few lessons that we should learn from them for effective corona prevention.
Take it Seriously and Act Fast
According to health experts, measures like wide testing, isolating the infected and promoting social distancing help prevent the outbreak. Though many parts of the world are adopting such measures, the only hindrance those in the West faced is that they took actions late. Even after having 2 months to prepare and act after China went down on its knees, the US and UK lost the opportunity. The only perception that proved worse was not taking it seriously and considering that China is quite far away to infect them.
When the first coronavirus report came from China on December 31, 2019, there was no clue of it being contagious. Besides, people knew very little about the virus. While the UK and US acted leniently, those safer countries mentioned above set up border screening on day 3 only. However, if they would have waited for scientists’ reports, those Asian countries would have been badly hit by the epidemic.
Affordable and Extensive Tests
Even failing to act quickly, South Korea managed to contain coronavirus after an initial spike. They developed an affordable test for Covid-19 and tested above 2,90,000 people with around 10,000 daily tests done for free. It was a remarkable step screening the population for fighting corona. On the other hand, delays in getting tests done and not-so-accurate test kits in the US were the negative factors. Difficulty in getting tests done because of non-availability and high costs only worsened the situation. And, the UK chose to test only hospitalized patients, making it difficult to find and curb corona prevention.
Trace and Then Isolate for Corona Prevention
Do you think only testing those with who symptoms will work? That’s not enough as tracing those who came in contact with the infected ones is vital. As the coronavirus spreads in a chain, the infected person has likely infected others before developing symptoms.
Singapore’s Smart Act for Corona Protection: In Singapore, detectives contact-traced over 6000 people. After this, individual identification using CCTV footages, testing, and ordering self-isolation came in as an antivirus shield. In Hong Kong, any person arriving from a foreign country must wear the electronic bracelet for movement tracking. And if one develops symptoms of covid-19, reverse tracing his/her contacts worked wonders for them.
And, in case, any person breaking the order to stay at home will be paying penalties and might face imprisonment. However, Western countries aren’t still able to adapt such measures due to various reasons like huge population and civil liberties.
Start Social Distancing Early
Social distancing is the best way of containing the outbreak. Wuhan, where the virus is known to start spreading from, saw almost 5 million people leaving before shutdown. And today, Wuhan is going back to a normal, corona-free life. Both Spain and Italy forced national lockdown after cases count crossed the thousand mark. Following the suite, California, New York, India, and everywhere else lockdowns and curfews are put into action.
In Singapore, schools are still open but no huge public gatherings. And, in Hong Kong, schools were closed, workers moved to work from home, and bars & restaurants kept running.
Social distancing refers to staying at home and avoiding all huge gatherings. Closing colleges, schools, and other establishments is a step that encourages social distancing. However, individual attitude and public messaging matters a lot in making it successful.
Informing the Public for Corona Prevention
As already stated, public cooperation is the utmost in effective corona prevention. Lacking this reduces adherence to policies and enforcement goes useless. China made the first mistake by being late in acknowledging the need for social distancing. However, a massive lockdown after that mistake went a long way in putting China back on the healthy track. Informing the public worked alongside upscaling the capacity of hospitals.
Here again, the US is facing problems after President Donald Trump’s denial of providing information about test kit availability and severity. The government is also failing at keeping or sharing a record of the number of tests done. Asian countries have gone transparent in this case with the public, making things much easier. Hong Kong maintains an online dashboard that displays the places where cases have been found. South Korea also provides mobile alerts to let people know about patients’ locations.
Individual’s Attitude Matters
Asian people are more into obeying government rules. Even at a place like Hong Kong where anti-government protests have been ongoing, people socially distanced voluntarily. Avoiding celebration of their Lunar New Year is a big example in this regard.
Lack of this ‘Individual Sense of Responsibility’ in the Western countries prevented them from fighting coronavirus with full force. While Western people only wear a mask when ill, those Asians are harassing those not following precautions. Though experts believe masks to be less effective as compared to regular hand washing. There’s no magic bullet against the novel coronavirus but if every person starts wearing masks, it significantly helps prevent transmission. Social distancing is another effective yet difficult step for an individual.
In short, social distancing, self-isolation, and timely quarantine are effective corona prevention techniques Asian countries followed. Though health experts believe that Western countries need to impose stricter measures, a 2-3 weeks’ lockdown period contains covid-19 spread. However, if the shutdown ends early, the virus is likely to start spreading again.