Worldwide Responses to Coronavirus

Written by Pablo Reid (News Writer)

After more than a month of isolation, many students are wondering how long the outbreak will last and how the future looks both in California and throughout the US. There are no exact answers, since the situation depends entirely on the individual actions of people within affected areas, but comparing the situation here, which is in its early stages, to that of other countries who have had the virus longer provides hints of what may come.  

Germany and South Korea have responded particularly well to the Coronavirus. In both countries, the death rate was low and the curve was flattened early, preventing the healthcare system from being overwhelmed. Important parallels were comprehensive testing and the extensive monitoring of individuals with the virus. In Germany a testing kit was developed in advance, which allowed many German hospitals to test anybody, not just those who showed severe symptoms. In South Korea, doctors investigated each cluster of cases thoroughly as well, testing liberally. By controlling individual cases, hospitals in both countries had ample time and resources, meaning that they could deal effectively with the worst cases. This intelligent approach prevented the situation from growing out of control. So far, many people think that this is how California is handling the crisis. According to recent numbers, the death rate is lower than Germany’s (by half!) and the number of cases is only growing slowly. At this stage, many think these are very encouraging signs. However, it is worth keeping in mind that we do not know how the virus has spread in parts where there aren’t many testing kits, and that the numbers could be too low or inaccurate. For now, though, social distancing appears to have worked here.  

However, the response to the virus has not been nearly as successful in other parts of the world, and even in other parts of the US. New York, the current hotspot of the virus, has suffered from a deluge of cases, straining hospital workers and draining resources, including ventilators, masks, and beds. In Europe, Spain and Italy were caught off-guard by the coronavirus’ rapid spread. Unable to prevent it, both estimate a death rate of around 10%. The difference between Italy’s death rate and Germany’s (0.4%) shows how important proper control is. Further problems have been a lack of testing kits and supplies, as well as citizens treating the outbreak lightly. In Spain, for example, the national guard had to be deployed to deal with people breaking curfews. 

Although they have reported lower figures in new infections and deaths, it is important to remember that an outbreak as costly could happen anywhere if people don’t act properly. We should remember both the good and the bad responses as the situation unfolds. Though everybody agrees social distancing is tedious, boring, and long, it is what we can do to prevent a bad outbreak of the virus. By taking it seriously, we can push forward the date of our return to a normal, happy, and healthy way of life.

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