Opinion Details

What are countries doing to combat coronavirus? - By Whatzoff


As of 13 March,

The COVID-19 coronavirus has spread to more than 100 countries with well over 126,000 confirmed cases.

61 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, North America and South America have announced or implemented school and university closures.

Thirty-nine countries have closed schools nationwide, impacting almost 421.4 million children and youth. A further twenty-two countries have implemented localized school closures and, should these closures become nationwide.

Italy, which has the highest number of cases of coronavirus after China, has extended its emergency measures.

Nationwide restrictions on travel are in place and all shops - apart from food stores and pharmacies - are closed, as are schools, gyms, museums, cafes restaurants and nightclubs.

French President Emmanuel Macron said the country was facing its worst public health crisis in a century and announced measures including the closure of schools, creches and universities from 16 March.

Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel said in a press conference on 11 March that 60-70% of the population could contract COVID-19. Urging people to stay clear of large gatherings and specifically football matches, she said there was no point in closing Germany's borders as the virus was "already inside" the country.

As of 13 March, the UK had not taken any measures to restrict people's movement.

On 13 March just five new cases were reported in Wuhan, and no locally transmitted infections were reported in the rest of China.

South Korea - where an outbreak surged at around the same time as Italy’s - reported the number of people recovering from the virus outpaced new infections for the first time.

US President Donald Trump stunned his European allies by announcing a ban on travel from the EU's Schengen area from 13 March.

Some countries had already restricted travel to and from China, including neighbouring Russia and Mongolia.

Hong Kong stepped up its travel restrictions. From Friday 13 March, all arrivals from Italy, and parts of France, Germany, and Japan are to be put under mandatory quarantine for 14 days.

India has quarantined itself for a month, restricting entry to UN officials and other diplomats.

Australia has banned entry to anyone from mainland China, Korea, Iran and Italy. The chief medical officer of Australia’s most populous state, New South Wales, said models suggested 5% of the state’s population - some 350,000 people - would need hospital treatment as a result of coronavirus.

On 11 March, the WHO announced that COVID-19 was now being characterized as a pandemic. WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus explained:

"Pandemic is not a word to use lightly or carelessly. It is a word that, if misused, can cause unreasonable fear, or unjustified acceptance that the fight is over, leading to unnecessary suffering and death.

"Describing the situation as a pandemic does not change WHO’s assessment of the threat posed by this virus. It doesn’t change what WHO is doing, and it doesn’t change what countries should do."

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