The Financial Express

No mystery behind meeting corona challenge  

Nilratan Halder   | Published: April 23, 2020 22:40:31

No mystery behind meeting corona challenge   

A popular conception is that coronavirus pandemic has been wreaking havoc all across the world. As many as 212 countries have come under its relentless attacks and both the number of the infected and the death toll are on the increase with every passing day. Significantly, the highly advanced countries in the West including the United States of America (USA) and the United Kingdom (UK) are among the worst hit. Italy and Spain led the pack in terms of infection and death for quite sometime and then the USA and the UK replace them.

When 2,000 people were dying in the USA in just 24 hours, is not it surprising that some countries -- albeit small in terms of geography and population -- and territories are yet to record a single death from Covid-19? Not one or two but as many as 45 countries and territories are still free from Covid-19 death.

What is the mystery behind such countries' casualty-free achievement? There is no miracle panacea to keep the highly contagious disease at bay. Those countries and territories took the warning issued by the World Health Organisation (WHO) quite seriously and followed the guidelines rigorously. Of course the healthcare system in some of these countries played a major role. Vietnam is a shining example of tackling the coronavirus invasion most efficiently. A total of 268 corona cases were reported till Wednesday last but no death and of the affected, 222 patients fully recovered. There were 46 active cases and only eight of them were seriously ill. Now come to the country's medical capability. The country could test a total of 206,253 by that time.

Particularly remarkable is the socialist country's recovery record. It shows the nation's health system and the administration have lost no time to detect the corona-positive citizens there. Prompt action to isolate the possible carriers of the virus together with proper medical care has made it possible. And Vietnam is not a very small country either with a population of 96 million.

Faeroe Islands is a North Atlantic archipelago that also boasts an enviable record of recovery. Of the 185 cases recorded till Wednesday, 178 recovered and only seven active cases remained. But it is a small territory with a population of little over 52,000 and 6,270 of its citizens were tested.

Another important factor is that most of these countries have not reported any new case at all. Contrast this with Singapore's coronavirus situation. The highly developed island nation has a total of 10,141 cases with 1,016 new cases reported. Here is a mixed result. With only 11 deaths, Singapore appears to be in the midst of a second wave of corona attack. It will be interesting to observe how it manages its low casualty record.

The pattern of corona attack and death of one country is hardly consistent with another's. This is true even in countries where the virus attack and subsequent deaths have been managed well. For example Singapore and South Korea (10,694) have recorded almost an equal number of cases but the latter has more deaths estimated at 238. But it reported only 11 new cases on Wednesday as against Singapore's thousand plus.

Now, how do the developed but badly ravaged Europe fare in this regard? Two neighbours France and Germany may be taken for a comparison. With 158,050 cases France lost to Covid-19 as many as 20,796 by Wednesday but it reported no new case nor death on the day whereas Germany with 148,587cases had only a quarter (5,090) of France's death. But Germany reported 134 new cases and four deaths.

What made the difference between these two neighbours is clear here. Germany was more prepared to face the disease than France. Angela Markel's country tested 1,728,357 people as against 463,662 people of Emmanuel Macron's country. The number of patients recovered is a reflection of the difference in their respective preparation and care. In Germany, 99,400 people recuperated from the disease as against France's 39,181. It is evident that Germany managed the corona attack better than France because its preparation was well in advance followed by contact tracing where both the UK and France miserably failed. All these nations, however, should have performed much better.

The fact is that the most advanced countries with enviably improved medical facilities took the WHO warning lightly. A glaring example of this is the USA. Its president even had the temerity to ridicule the virus. Now the richest and the mightiest country is paying heavily for its lack of preparation for the pandemic. However much advanced a country's health system may be, in time of a pandemic of this order it is impossible to attend the patients when the flu-like virus spread fast and undetected.

A case in point on the positive side may be the performance of Kerala, India's southernmost state. Kerala has the largest number of migrant workers among all Indian states and no wonder it was first to report a corona-positive case in India. But the state run by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has made almost miracle possible. Although 427 people were reported to have tested positive, only three died till Wednesday. The state's management of the corona affair has been hailed as a model and anyone can see this is not for nothing. Indeed, the disease can be conquered provided the administration and health system work in a coordinated manner to get ready for meeting the challenge before it overwhelms the existing facilities.



Share if you like