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Covid-19: How other countries are battling the deadly virus

Tuesday March 24 2020

Covid-19 screening-drive in Paris

People sit in their vehicles as they wait to have samples collected at a Covid-19 screening-drive in Paris, France on March 23, 2020. The country has imposed a lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of the novel coronavirus. PHOTO | FRANCK FIFE | AFP 

NATION TEAM
By NATION TEAM
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As the Covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic continues to ravage the world, different countries have put in place robust measures to arrest the deadly virus.

Kenya is staring at a possible lockdown after it emerged that people are not taking seriously the government’s warnings to stop gatherings, stay at home and maintain hygiene and social distance.

Here is a rundown of how other countries are taking on Covid-19:

• The US
First coronavirus case: Jan 21.

Number of confirmed cases (as at March 22): 35,060

Number of deaths (as at March 22): 457

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Number of recoveries (as at March 22): 178

In its latest bid to arrest the spread of the virus, the US is taking the following measures:

— The federal government restricted travellers from certain countries entering the US.

— New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a "containment area" with a one-mile radius in New Rochelle, in suburban Westchester County. The National Guard has been deployed to the containment area to deliver food to homes and help with cleaning of public spaces.

— California has imposed a lockdown on its 40 million residents as Santa Clara County banned all gatherings of more than 1,000 people.

— Closure of schools where cases have been identified or there is concern of exposure.

On Tuesday, Georgia's Fulton County Schools — which oversees Atlanta's public schools — became the largest school district so far to close, after an employee tested positive for the virus.

— A growing number of colleges and universities across the US have cancelled in-person classes.

— President Donald Trump signed into law a coronavirus relief package that includes provisions for free testing for the coronavirus and paid emergency leave.

• Egypt
First coronavirus case: Feb 14.

Number of confirmed cases (as at March 22): 327

Number of deaths (as at March 22): 14

Number of recoveries (as at March 22): 56

In its latest bid to arrest the spread of the virus, Egypt is taking the following measures:

— Suspension of all flights to and from its airports.

— Governorates banned weekly local markets and smoking water pipes in coffee shops and public places.

— Suspension of school and university classes as well as sports activities.

— Allocation of 100 billion Egyptian pounds to finance the anti-Covid-19 comprehensive plan and its precautionary measures.

— Suspension of all events with large gatherings until further notice.

— Government staff ordered to work from home.

• South Korea

First coronavirus case: January 20

Number of confirmed cases (as at March 22): 8,961

Number of deaths (as at March 22): 111

Number of recoveries (as at March 22): 3,166

In its latest bid to arrest the spread of the virus, South Korea is taking the following measures:

— All South Korean military bases were on lockdown after tests confirmed three soldiers to be positive for the virus.

— People in cities across the county have been encouraged to stay at home, some offices have closed and many events have been postponed.

— All schools are closed.

— The country has 50 drive-through screening clinics where people can get a medical exam and have a sample taken in just 10 minutes. Health workers are processing up to 15,000 tests every day.

— Closure of public libraries, museums, churches, day-care centres and courts.

— Learning institutions have been shut down temporarily.

— The country also is subsidising small and medium-sized business owners so they can provide flexible work hours to employees who have children home from school.

• Spain.

First coronavirus case: January 31

Number of confirmed cases (as at March 22): 29,909

Number of deaths (as at March 22): 1,813

Number of recoveries (as at March 22): 2,575

In its latest bid to arrest the spread of the virus, Spain is taking the following measures:

— Authorities in most affected regions- Madrid, Basque Country and La Rioja- have ordered the closure of all schools, universities, day-care centres restaurants, bars and hotels.

— Flights between Spain and Italy have been suspended and large gatherings cancelled in the three regions.

— Spanish Health Minister Salvador Illa encouraged companies to reduce working hours and travel and to support remote work.

— Spain’s prime minister is seeking to extend the country’s 15-day state of emergency, first declared on March 14, for a further 15 days to stem the spread of the coronavirus outbreak.

— Spanish Episcopal Conference indicated that churches should remove the holy water from the pillars, avoid the gesture of shaking hands as a way of giving peace, and not kiss religious images.

• France

First coronavirus case: January 24

Number of confirmed cases (as at March 22): 16,018.

Number of deaths (as at March 22): 674

Number of recoveries (as at March 22): 2,200

In its latest bid to arrest the spread of the virus, France is taking the following measures:

— Lockdown: France has put in place strict lockdown measures and deployed 100,000 police officers to enforce the lockdown. In addition, fixed checkpoints have been set up across the country. Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said that fines of up to 135 euros (Sh15,100) would be handed out to those who do not respect the new restrictions.

— Closed-down premises: France had already shut down restaurants and bars, closed schools and put ski resorts off-limits to contain the spread of the virus.

— Safeguarding businesses: France will mobilise 45 billion euros ($50.22bn) in crisis measures to help its companies. President Emmanuel Macron also said that the government would guarantee 300 billion euros ($335bn) worth of loans to businesses to avoid collapse. In addition, rent and utility bills owed by small companies have been suspended to weather the economic storm caused by the virus.

• China

First coronavirus case: November 2019.

Number of confirmed cases (as at March 22): 81,093

Number of deaths (as at March 22): 3,270

Number of recoveries (as at March 22): 72,703

In its latest bid to arrest the spread of the virus, China is taking the following measures:

— Extreme lockdown measures – Wuhan, which is still considered an area of high risk, went into a virtual lockdown on January 23 to contain the spread of the virus to the rest of China.

— Built hospitals – China built two dedicated hospitals in Wuhan in just over one week and health care workers from all over China were sent to the outbreak’s centre.
— Tracing infections – The Chinese government embarked on efforts to trace contacts of confirmed cases. In Wuhan alone, more than 1,800 teams of five or more people traced tens of thousands of contacts. The government also tracked people’s movements.

— Aggressive social distancing – the country cancelled sporting events and closed down theatres. Schools were closed as well as many businesses. Anyone who went outdoors also had to wear a mask.

• The UK

First coronavirus case: January 31

Number of confirmed cases (as at March 22): 5,683

Number of deaths (as at March 22): 281

Number of recoveries (as at March 22): 135

In its latest bid to arrest the spread of the virus, the UK is taking the following measures:

The UK has employed a three-step strategy, which includes contain, delay and research.

— The contain phase includes isolation of cases, repatriation of British nationals and their dependents from affected areas overseas, powers to police and health officers to detain suspected cases, as well as enact rapid tracing, monitoring and isolation of cases.

— On March 22, the government announced that it would be asking about 1.5 million people who are at a greater risk to self-isolate for 12 weeks. The country has also stock-pilled medication and protective equipment for health staff.

— The delay phase includes finding and isolation of early cases as well as encouraging individual responsibility such as hand washing with the aim of delaying the peak outbreaks to warmer months to avoid an overlapping with the seasonal flu.

— The research phase includes coordinating research efforts towards the rapid development of specific tests of the virus, including vaccines.

• South Africa
First coronavirus case: March 5

Number of confirmed cases (as at March 22): 274

Number of deaths (as at March 22): 0

Number of recoveries (as at March 22): 2

In its latest bid to arrest the spread of the virus, South Africa is taking the following measures:

— Lockdown – On Monday evening, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a 21-day lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus. This came on the day the country announced that its confirmed cases had shot up to 402 from 274 cases the day before. The lockdown is effective March 26 at midnight.

— Public gatherings cancelled: On 15 March, gatherings of more than 100 people were prohibited and the number of patrons at pubs, clubs, and restaurants were limited to 50.

— Schools closed: From March 18, all schools were closed until after the Easter season, and expected to resume on April 14, with the June holidays shortened by a week and the September holidays shortened by 3 days. Universities also suspended learning.

— Events, including religious and sporting events were cancelled or postponed. Parliament also suspended its sessions.

— Travel ban from high-risk countries such as Italy, China, Germany, France, the United States, and the UK were enforced. The government also shut down 35 of 53 land ports will be shut down from March 16.

• Italy
First coronavirus case: January 31

Number of confirmed cases (as at March 22): 59,138

Number of deaths (as at March 22): 5,467

Number of recoveries (as at March 22): 7, 024

In a bid to arrest the spread of the virus, Italy is taking the following measures.

— Rome has imposed fines on anyone caught entering or leaving outbreak areas, as reported by The Guardian.

— All flights suspended by the Italian civil aviation authority (ENAC).

— In the northern provinces of Lombardy and Veneto, Italian authorities locked down ten towns that were linked to have active cases of the virus.

— When the deaths started skyrocketing, the Italian government in collaboration with their military, helped in imposing the total lockdown to prevent the spread of the virus.

• Uganda

First coronavirus case: March 22

Number of confirmed cases (as at March 22): 1

Number of deaths (as at March 22): 0

Number of recoveries (as at March 22): 0

President Yoweri Museveni’s government has enforced the following measures to help curb the spread of the virus:

— Closure of borders to stop further importation of Covid-19 cases via land, air or sea.

— Prior to that, the Ugandan government had restricted travel to some of the hardest hit countries like Italy.

— Air travel out of the county was suspended, allowing only cargo planes to operate.

— Schools were closed effective Friday, March 20 as ordered by the president.

— To maintain high standards of hygiene, the president asked those in charge of public transport to ensure passengers sanitise before boarding their vehicles. He advised Ugandans to only travel when it is very necessary, especially when they are using public transport.

• Rwanda

First coronavirus case: March 13

Number of confirmed cases (as at March 22): 19

Number of deaths (as at March 22): 0

Number of recoveries (as at March 22): 0

Today, Rwanda has 19 active cases of the Covid-19, with no deaths reported.

To help reduce the spread of the virus, the Rwandese government has put up the following measures:

— The Rwandan government, when the Wuhan cases were all over, decided to put a huge screen used to detect fever among incoming passengers at the Kigali International Airport. All passengers had to undergo the screening as well as provide information about their travel history.

— In addition to the screening, the Rwandese government enforced recommended public health guidelines by the World Health Organisation, such as avoiding handshakes, regular handwashing, and covering one’s mouth when coughing and sneezing in public.

— Like Uganda, on March 22, the Rwandese government also closed its borders, allowing only its citizens who are returning to the country, goods and cargo.

— The government in Rwanda also ordered that anyone coming into the country, as per the measures they have put in place, will have to be quarantined for14 days in selected locations.

Reporting by Sarah Nanjala, Claire Wasilwa and Hellen Shikanda.