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The pandemic & countries that prevailed against it

Dickson C. Igwe. Photo: VINO/File
by Dickson C. Igwe

What was the common denominator for countries that kept the pandemic to a minimum? Unlike in the USA, Brazil, and UK, draconian action and effective governance appeared to be the key components in keeping the COVID 19 virus from spreading in specific countries.

In some places the wearing of a face mask is mandatory and anyone venturing out without a mask is arrested swiftly.  In those countries there is no halfway house: wearing a face mask is compulsory.

Even in countries where masks are not compulsory, populations that are actively mindful of the importance of masks in combatting Covid 19 wear their masks when necessary. This has probably stemmed the tide of infections in those countries.

Early in the pandemic there was mixed messaging on masks especially in the USA and UK.

Then countries that took the pandemic seriously in December 2019 were better prepared for action when the worst happened, unlike countries that refused to take the pandemic seriously and that failed to lockdown early.

There may have been a belief that the pandemic was an Asian issue.  The pandemic would not reach the west. However science stated that with global aviation and international shipping, it would only be a matter of time before the pandemic reached western shores.

In Africa, in early January 2020, Kenya, which has a robust manufacturing base, converted that base into a machine for building ventilators and health care equipment. That effort apparently paid off in minimizing the spread of COVID in Kenya.

Countries, where populations obeyed government protocols, did well. The Caribbean- British Virgin Islands is one example- possessed residents who did not disobey directives and rules set by health ministers. The result may have been a minimization of infection rates and deaths in most of the Caribbean islands.

West Indians and residents of the Caribbean stayed indoors, obeyed quarantine rules, and social distancing requirements. The result was a far less spread of the pandemic in the region.

Limiting personal contact was a disaster for these economies. However lockdowns and social distancing achieved the desired result of controlling the spread of the virus.

In Africa, the poster boy for prevailing against the virus is Rwanda.

Rwanda is a highly digitized African state capable of going cashless at very short notice. When the lockdown was initiated very early on, Rwanda went cashless and all transactions were done online. The country fully locked down for months. The preceding kept social distancing to a maximum. And that helped keep control of the pandemic in Rwanda.

Effective digitization meant that over 50% of Rwandans could work from home. Online schooling was empowered, and most businesses were able to operate online.

Rwanda has a population of 12 million with just 2200 cases and 8 deaths.

Compare that with the USA and UK where hundreds of thousands have died and millions are infected, then there is no doubt Rwanda is an example of early action saving lives.

And it appears that so with countries that obeyed science with early action on COVID, so it will be with countries that bow to science with the vaccine.

The countries that first get the majority of their populations inoculated from COVID 19 achieving herd immunity will be the first to return to normal and see full economic and social recovery. 

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