COVID-19: Whatever else the rapidly evolving and increasingly global health crisis may or may not do, it’s shining an unforgiving light on the relative capacities of national health systems. Even more importantly in the longer-term, perhaps, it’s providing a searching examination of political leaders, and the ability of very different political systems to deal with unexpected crises.
COVID-19: India’s fight against Corona
Despite being the world’s second-most populous country, with more than 1.3 billion people, the COVID-19 infection rate in India remains low relative to population size. Some credit fast government action to quarantine people and shut borders. Taking rapid actions to limit travel by suspending visas and quarantining all incoming travellers has helped India. All international passengers entering India undergo Universal Health Screening. According to health officials, more than 1 million passengers have been screened at airports, limiting the entry of coronavirus.
The response also mirrors India’s reaction to previous disease outbreaks, including Ebola in 2014 and Nipah in 2018, when people were quickly put into quarantine or under surveillance. Apart from ensuring the safe return of hundreds of Indians from China, Iran and other countries, the Indian government has taken decisive measures to contain community spread.
The government was quick to recommend residents to avoid or postpone mass gatherings until the virus is contained. Government has also made disinfecting all public places, including government, private offices and shopping malls compulsory. All educational institutions, offices, stadiums and sports clubs are closed till further orders amid the coronavirus scare as a precautionary step.
India is also working on a set of policy measures to combat the coronavirus and its economic impact and that may include cash transfers to workers in the informal sector. The RBI has also introduced measures to pump more rupee liquidity into the Indian banking system. Central and state authorities are asked to ensure regular supply of essentials such as food and medicines. India has also unveiled US$22 billion package to provide rations and cash to about 800 million people hit by the corona virus lockdown.
COVID-19: USA’s fight against Corona
The United States is characterized by a noticeable lack of coherence in the administration’s corona strategy. At first, the government hesitated to take steps that would stop the spread of the virus at the expense of slowing economic growth. This reluctance changed when the high rates of morbidity began to emerge in a number of areas, and by late March the administration adopted drastic measures to limit the spread of the virus, in spite of the heavy economic price.
The US government has issued a proclamation under section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) to restrict travel to the United States from foreign nationals who have recently been in certain European countries. Section 212(f) of the INA only applies to the movement of human beings, not goods or cargo.
The President has announced an economic assistance package to help support businesses and workers who have been harmed by this outbreak. The US Government has instructed the Small Business Administration (SBA) to exercise available authority to provide loans to businesses affected by the coronavirus. The President has instructed the Department of the Treasury to defer tax payments for certain individuals and businesses negatively impacted by the coronavirus. This action will provide more than $200 billion of additional liquidity to the economy. The Administration has taken bold steps to incentivize the development of therapeutics and vaccines to treat and prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The Administration has announced that health plans with health savings accounts will be able to cover coronavirus testing and treatment without co-payments.
COVID-19: China’s fight against Corona
Social distancing, as proven effective measure, has been a major route that has been employed by the Chinese government. This includes organizing the professionals in the medical field, fulfilling their needs, cleaning up spaces for treatment as well as quarantine, etc. Several health policies, as well as financial exemptions were made. For example- China has explicitly ordered its banks to show tolerance towards the borrowers.
Aggressive “social distancing” measures implemented in the entire country included canceling sporting events and shuttering theaters. Schools extended breaks that began in mid-January for the Lunar New Year. Many businesses closed shop. Anyone who went outdoors had to wear a mask.
Two widely used mobile phone apps, AliPay and WeChat—which in recent years have replaced cash in China. Restrictions were imposed on the movement of more than 930 million people. Body temperatures checked and travel history logged at entrances of residential areas and offices. Permits issued allowing only one person per household to go out. Drivers organised on a massive scale primarily to deliver food to homes and medicines to hospitals. WHO director general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said China’s “coordinated and comprehensive approach” was critical in saving thousands from infection.
COVID-19: South Korea’s fight against Corona
The Korean government, although being vigilant since the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan in December, couldn’t stop coronavirus from entering the country since thousands of Chinese visitors on the eve of Lunar New Year already entered Korea. The government has since then been rapidly investigating the contacts of suspected and infected cases and sterilising the environment near the places visited by such.
Medical laws passed and quarantine laws amended. The amended law also allows the nation to refuse entry to people confirmed or suspected to have contracted the coronavirus disease. Further, the new laws allow the government to ban export or transfer of masks and other items. Leave of Absence and home-quarantining for employees. The Korean government has recommended employers to issue either 14 days of leave of absence (LoA) or work from home to employees returning from China. Those working at ticket gates and toilets and in buses, railway, subways, taxis have been advised to wear masks as a measure of hygiene.
What hasn’t been so widely reported is the country’s heavy use of surveillance technology, notably CCTV and the tracking of bank card and mobile phone usage, to identify who to test in the first place. And this is an important lesson for more liberal countries that might be less tolerant of such privacy invading measures but are hoping to emulate South Korea’s success.
In addition, the comparative assessment raises two main conclusions: first, there are signs of a gap between the success of the fast containment measures taken by most countries in East Asia, and the Western countries where the epidemic has not yet been stopped. The gap in the ability to cope could derive from a number of causes, including: levels of preparedness and readiness in East Asia based on lessons learned from previous epidemics. In addition, although globalization has contributed to the speed of the coronavirus spread and the severity of the medical and economic emergency, the same world order – built on connectivity, data availability, and knowledge sharing between countries, organizations, and individuals facilitates cooperation in processes of learning and managing the crisis and as well as the subsequent recovery.