There are more than 1.2 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States right now with nearly 80,000 related deaths on record. This number is greater than a quarter of the total deaths suffered worldwide.
What has America gotten wrong in its response to the deadly virus, and what have other countries done right?
New Zealand, South Africa, and Vietnam—even sharing a border with China where the virus originated —all have experienced relatively few cases and minimal deaths from COVID-19.
“All three countries have a coordinated, nationwide, centrally planned response as well as travel restrictions, both domestic and international,” said Dr. Berger.
Elements of each country’s response that likely have contributed to their success in keeping the virus at bay include:
- Speed: rapid response to the situation in closing borders immediately, implementing full lockdowns, and requiring that masks be worn right away
- Aggressive enforcement: all three countries have been stern in enforcing these regulations with government assistance and even military intervention
- Testing: meticulous attention devoted to testing and then contact tracing as to following where someone infected has traveled
Additionally, South Africa and Vietnam have been able to draw on their past experiences with such deadly diseases such as HIV infection, Tuberculosis, and SARS.
Experts agree that early and swift action is key to a country’s success in fighting any deadly virus. “Trying to play catch-up is always more difficult than heading things off early on,” says Dr. Berger.
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