How Different Countries Have Dealt with the COVID-19 Pandemic by Shayna Blatt

A COVID-19 testing station in Madagascar. (Courtesy of World Bank Photo Collection).

Since March, the world has experienced the disastrous effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Lockdowns, masks, social distancing and more have been part of the numerous attempts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 across the globe. Each country has taken its own approach to handle the negative public health and economic effects of this virus. While some countries have succeeded in lowering case numbers more than others, the world still struggles to adapt to the “new normal”. 

Across the United States, citizens have seen what may be lasting effects of this pandemic. After mandatory quarantines from early March to June, with specific regulations varying from state to state, the nation saw a decrease in case counts. Although many communities have followed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, those who have not have arguably been most impactful in influencing the extension of quarantine periods. Over Memorial Day and other public holidays, many did not follow health protocols as evidenced by numerous internet videos of individuals partying without caution. Suffering the consequence, the United States has continued to see increases in coronavirus cases and recently surpassed 200,000 COVID-19 related deaths on September 22. The state and Federal governments’ implementation of COVID-19 restrictions has also ignited controversy across the country, as many argue that decisions are in politicians’ hands rather than those of physicians. While many communities have done their best to control the spread of this virus, the United States still struggles to control and contain its widespread damage, endeavoring to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 while fostering economic recovery and the ultimate reopening of essential businesses. 

A number of countries that seem to be more successful in managing coronavirus case numbers include Germany, New Zealand, Norway, and Taiwan. A major factor that contributes to this difference is early action. All of the leaders of these countries decided to take extensive action when some of the first outbreaks were reported. Taiwan’s leader, Tsai Ing-wen, has done a tremendous job of handling this pandemic as only seven COVID-19 related deaths in the span of this year have been reported in contrast to the United States’ 208,000 deaths, as of October 2. During the initial months of the pandemic, New Zealand Prime Minister Jarcinda Ardern mandated lockdowns, in addition to banning foreigners from entering the country, leaving COVID-19 related deaths in New Zealand under thirty. Erna Solberg of Norway decided to speak with her country’s children about the pandemic, asking for their concerns and telling them that “it is okay to be scared”. Germany’s Prime Minister Angela Merkel was straightforward in telling the people that the pandemic “is serious.” Since March, Germany has taken significant control over testing, making sure that anyone who has symptoms or has been in contact with a person who has tested positive receives immediate testing. Merkel has also been commended for leading Germany to have one of the lowest case counts compared to its European neighbors. Besides the fact that these women have done remarkably well in handling the hardships of these unprecedented times, they have also shown that following quarantine regulations and maintaining social distancing are important health matters. Early action has made a major difference in preventing the spread of the coronavirus and has prevented a great deal of economic hardship and death for these citizens. The leaders of these countries set the example that the rest of the world should strive to follow during these unusual times.

Ultimately, as everyone learns new information about this pandemic, individuals will find improved ways to implement the extra precautions necessary to stay healthy. It is clear that when grappling with health crises, early action translates to fewer widespread adverse effects: maintaining calm and taking early preventative measures are the best ways to stop the spread of infectious disease and even viruses such as the flu.

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