What you need to know:
- The disease claimed more than 800 lives in Taiwan alone.
- New Zealand has also defined the meaning of success in regard to combating Covid-19.
Unlike any other pathogen of the 21st Century, Covid-19 has proven to be the most determined to widen its berth of influence with patients exceeding nine million in 213 countries globally.
Many say the endemic has closed the gap and levelled the ground of social distinctions. This has been accentuated by the level of preparedness and how different countries are fighting this common enemy.
For those who have recorded success stories, in their battles against the novel pathogen, two things have remained apparent; Leadership is key and taking fast and early action is suited.
Take Taiwan, for example.
The island state of 23 million people has recorded a mere 446 Covid-19 patients and seven deaths. Experts attribute this success to the Southeast Asian country’s painful memories with the 2002 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (Sars) outbreak. The disease claimed more than 800 lives in Taiwan alone. Over 8,000 people were infected globally with Taiwan being hit the hardest.
The first step that Taipei took was to stop the export of protective masks as soon as the novel coronavirus was announced in Wuhan, China, late last year. Taiwanese began wearing face masks and observing social distance even before the first case was detected in their country.
The government focused its energy on medical infrastructure, ensuring that hospitals were well equipped and citizens were being tested for the coronavirus as much as possible.
New Zealand has also defined the meaning of success in regard to combating Covid-19. The island of five million inhabitants was declared Covid-19-free after only three months of observing stringent measures. Its revered Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, has been praised for her “go early, go fast” strategy.
Wellington put in place stringent measures (which some termed illegal) as soon as the first case was announced within the island. Lockdown was imposed, travel banned, gatherings prohibited and social gathering spots and business were closed.
So determined was the PM that she demoted the Health minister took his family for a 20-minute beach drive. “I expected better from you,” said Ardern then.
Three months later, New Zealanders have begun their ‘new normal’. Persistence has extricated them from the shackles of uncertainty. But even more precise is the fact that true leadership was necessary if victory was first in their agenda.
The inverse of these success stories can be seen in many of the countries that opted to take their time humming and hawing on whether to impose lockdown measures or keep the economy running. The United States, for instance, has been upbraided for misleading Americans.
Washington’s sloth has seen the country’s number of Covid-19 patients surge to uncontrollable proportions with more than two million infections and over 125,000 deaths and rising.
Kevin Maina, communication and media student, Kenyatta University, Nairobi