COVID-19 is not peculiar to us. That is why it is called a pandemic. And we are not the only ones suffering either although we might have been among the loudest to complain about how miserable our lives have become and how our government officials have largely made it so.
But let’s take a look at how the disease has impacted the lives of people in other parts of the world and how their governments have responded or are responding to the crisis.
In the United States, the nation’s top infectious disease expert admitted that their strategies to curb the spread of the disease were not working as cases surged across the country. According to the latest figures posted in the Johns Hopkins University dashboard, the US has recorded 2,467,658 Covid-19 cases and 125,046 deaths. The world’s total numbers are 9,777,889 cases, 493,609 from 188 countries/regions.
In California, the governor reinstated a stay-at-home order in Imperial County because its hospitals have been overwhelmed with patients. New York has ordered arrivals from states with high incidence of Covid-19 cases to undergo a 14-day quarantine. The Texas governor has ordered hospitals in Houston to defer elective surgery because their ICUs were nearing full capacity. Florida recorded 8,142 cases in one day last Friday (The New York Times). And for the first time in modern history, Americans may be barred from entering European Union countries when they reopen their borders on July 1 (BBC).
In Africa, the number of confirmed cases had doubled to 200,000 in 18 days, according to the World Health Organization. Experts have warned of a “catastrophic shortage” of health professionals. Nigerian doctors have announced that they will go on a nationwide strike to protest the lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) in government hospitals and hazard pay for treating Covid-19 patients. A number of Nigerian health care workers have been infected. The health minister of Ghana and four staff members of the president of Kenya also have the disease (The New York Times).
In Sweden, the WHO has noted a recent rise in infections (155 for every 100,000 inhabitants) but the government said this was due to the increased testing that they were implementing. Sweden did not order a lockdown, preferring the “herd immunity” approach to the disease. It has so far recorded 5,230 deaths, which is considered high for a country with a population of 10 million (BBC).
In India, the lockdown has caused a “humanitarian crisis of epic proportions. In Mumbai’s slums, families have no employment, packed into crouching spaces under sizzling tin roofs.” In one slum area alone, 77 have already died (Nikkei Asian Review).
There is a glimmer of hope though, amid our uncertainties. The University of Oxford has announced that its research for a vaccine is progressing quickly. The university said it is now into advanced staged of its studies “to evaluate how well the vaccine induces immune responses in older adults, and to test whether it can provide protection in the wider population.”
The BBC has reported that there are 120 coronavirus vaccine being developed all over the world although most of them will not get past the laboratory phase. But 13 are now in clinical trials: five in China, three in the U.S., two in the UK and one each in Germany, Australia and Russia. There is growing hope that a vaccine will be distributed in early 2021.
So there you are. In the meantime, stay at home but if and when you have to go out, wear a mask and practice social distancing, The life you save could be your own.