India must enrich its efforts, fighting novel coronavirus, by incorporating success model of others
How regions across the world are following a pattern but still showing different results and taking vastly different measures to contain the Coronavirus. What India can learn from them are as follows :-
• It has one of the lowest mortality rates at 0.77%, against the global average of 3.4%.
• Early measures and proactiveness: When the Chinese scientists first published the nCoronavirus virus genetic sequence for the first time in January, at least four South Korean firms quietly began developing and stockpiling test kits alongside the government – well before the country had its first outbreak.
• Widespread Testing: It is testing 80,000 people per week (the highest in the world). South Korea gave more weightage to actively searching for and diagnosing nCoronavirus patients in order to break the chain of transmission. It also introduced drive-through testing, allowing people to be checked for disease without even leaving their vehicles.
• Emergency Use Authorization (EUA): South Korea was the first nation to issue COVID-19 related EUA. As per the EUA, it allowed the use of in-vitro diagnosis kits. EUA is an innovative biodefense policy adopted in response to the public health emergency. It allowed the use of novel unapproved medical countermeasures in case of public health emergencies when no countermeasures were available.
Firewall Strategy: As per this strategy, it bans the entry of travellers from hard-hit regions of China and quarantines the suspects. This kind of strategy is similar to the Japanese military concept of “Mizugiwa Sakusen”- a military doctrine of repelling invaders as soon as they reach the shore.
• “Clean bill of health”: It was a medieval age tactic as per which if a passenger on a ship did not pass health inspection, he or she would need to remain anchored offshore for at least 40 days in order to prove that they had no disease
• “Face mask culture”: Wearing masks is a routine for every Japanese citizen– 3 in 10 people are seen wearing masks, even on days of no outbreaks. When the news of the spread of Coronavirus was received, nearly 80% of the population was seen wearing masks.
• Japanese Flu drug: It was viewed as highly effective in treating the nCoronavirus patients.
Strict Lockdown and Social Distancing measures: For instance, Wuhan virtually went into lockdown with checkpoints blocking the main roads leading out of town.
• Extensive Public monitoring of citizens: For instance, getting into one’s apartment compound or workplace requires scanning a QR code, writing down one’s name and ID number, temperature and recent travel history.
• Extensive Quarantines: In Wuhan, the authorities converted stadiums and other facilities into mass quarantine centres and built more than a dozen temporary hospitals to house patients with less severe symptoms.
• Use of Technology: Social media platforms like WeChat and Weibo have hotlines for people to report others who may be sick. Chinese companies are, meanwhile, rolling out facial recognition technology that can detect elevated temperatures in a crowd or flag citizens not wearing a face mask.
• Moral Policing: Some cities are offering people rewards for informing on sick neighbours. They also make a very good use of community/resident welfare workers. For instance, during complete lockdown, people who, in turns, move out of their homes for any reason had to inform the resident welfare person of his/her precise locality. This added one extra layer of public monitoring.
• Extensive testing and immediate isolation of patients, rigorous tracking of close contacts.
• Focus on Public health infrastructure: Construction of a hospital in 10 days and additional deployment of health workers in Wuhan to tackle the situation proactively.
Stopped export of surgical masks: The Taiwan government stopped the export of surgical masks and requested local companies to step up the production of masks, i.e. for 10 million masks a day.
• Implemented purchasing policy: The policy that permits buying only a certain amount of adult and children masks per week from pharmacies was put into place.
• Online mask: Facility of online ordering of masks and picking them up from the government designated place at the appointed date was done to avoid a panic situation
• A unified command centre was set up to ensure the coordination between those managing resources, holding daily briefings and those controlling public messages.
• Big data analytics was used by the Taiwan government for developing a platform to inform the people about aspects like where masks were currently available and the whereabouts of infected people.
• Integration of travel history: Taiwan’s health insurance and immigration agencies integrated the travel history of local and foreign residents of the past 14 days along with their health insurance card data- allowing hospitals , clinics and pharmacies to access that information while dealing with the patients
• Taiwan’s health system: User data was stored in a centralised data system, accessible to hospitals and clinics, so that doctors could quickly access and view their patient’s history. This proved effective in saving lives.
• Public education and awareness was focused on widely.
Singapore reported fewer cases, which are amongst the lowest in the world.
• Singapore’s relatively low rate of infection came through a potent combination of early and intensive policy interventions, including shutting its borders.
• It set up a virus-fighting task force, promptly imposed strict hospital and home quarantine measures, and banned large-scale gatherings. It did not stop short of shutting down schools and fully closing its borders.
• Proactive, not reactive: Within 24 hours of a new infection, Singapore raced to stitch together a holistic picture of an infected person’s movements.
• Contact Tracer Team: It involved mobilizing a team of more than a hundred dedicated contact tracers, who worked around the clock.
Though many other other countries, organisations, trusts, etc are working round the clock to their best extent in fighting this pandemic; global village must come together & share their experiences in this ‘war’.