For many months, countries all over the world have been fighting an unseen enemy, the coronavirus. Amid the pandemic, some world leaders have faced criticisms for their slow and ineffective response to the virus.
Countries have entered a recession and their citizens have been battling months-long crisis with loss of income and livelihood for many. Hospitals are being overwhelmed and frontliners are experiencing shortages of critical medical equipment such as ventilators and protective gear. (Read: Pandemic 101: A Glossary of All Coronavirus-Related Terms)
However, there are countries that are winning the fight against COVID-19. We list five countries that have been heralded as success stories for flattening the curve before infection rates soared exponentially.
After recording its first case of COVID-19 in January, Taiwan has managed to keep a low number of confirmed cases and deaths. Despite not being a member of the United Nations and therefore locked out of the World Health Organization (WHO), Taiwan’s government acted as soon as news broke out about a mysterious illness in Wuhan, China. (Read: Here’s what the ‘new normal’ in hotel facilities will look like)
It began inspecting travelers, set up a tracking system to those in self-quarantine, and ramped up the production of medical equipment in January. It also stopped exporting face masks, one of the main protection against COVID-19.
During the first few weeks of the pandemic, South Korea had one of the largest outbreaks outside China. However, the country managed to slow the spread of new COVID-19 cases without any lockdowns. How did they do it?
South Korea has one of the most excellent models for mass testing—their only way to contain the outbreak. The country tests more than 20,000 people daily and enforces isolation and widespread contact tracing in order to stop transmission. (Read: LOOK: Marikina, Valenzuela LGUs ramp up COVID-19 testing facilities)
Georgia, which is at the intersection of Europe and Asia, is an unlikely success story of COVID-19 response. As the virus spread, Georgia suspended direct flights with emerging hot spots, began profiling and set up quarantine zones for travelers arriving from abroad, and had a massive public awareness campaign.
Schools were closed and targeted lockdowns were put in place when Georgia had only three confirmed cases. Today, Georgia has reopened local tourism services and will welcome international tourists from countries where infection cases of COVID-19 have not been confirmed. (Read: 5 Prayers for Safe Travel)
While the United States is struggling to contain the COVID-19 cases in the country, neighboring Canada has managed to roll out more expansive testing. In January, Canada set up an infrastructure to conduct tests and contact tracing. The early response stems from Canada’s experience during the SARS outbreak in 2003.
Canada also has a well-funded public health care system—a preparation for a massive outbreak based on experience—thus widespread testing was conducted. (Read: How Has the Duterte Administration Fared the Past 4 Years?)
Thailand has recorded 3,083 infections and 57 deaths, with a 96% recovery rate. At the height of the pandemic in March and April, the country entered a partial lockdown. Public and private establishments were closed throughout the country except for essential services such as hospitals, drug stores, supermarkets, and takeout. (Read: What businesses will be allowed to reopen in GCQ areas?)
Because of a lack of funds, public health authorities did not rely on mass testing but instead had an aggressive strategy of contact tracing, quarantining those who tested positive, and hospitalizing patients with serious symptoms. They also required international travelers to self-isolate, with some being confined to government quarantine centers.
The battle for coronavirus in the country was led by public health officials who persuaded the people to use face masks. They also employed hundreds of thousands of village health volunteers to monitor cases at the grassroots level.