The Covid-19 virus was first reported in China on 17 November 2019. Since then, it’s managed to spread to more than 450,000 people around the world, with deaths fast approaching 20,000. This virus is serious. For many, it presents as only mild cold/flu symptoms, and for some none at all. That makes it incredibly easy to spread, as many of those patients don’t even realize that they’re sick. As cases ramp up, let’s take a look at how countries have responded to the Covid-19 outbreak, from day 1 to week 5. 

How countries around the world have responded 

First, let’s take a look at the stats: 

The outbreak started off relatively slow in China, with the first case occurring on 17 November 2019. Realistically, they could have curbed the virus there and then, but a lack of response from Beijing saw it take off and spread around the globe. Since then, more than 73,159 cases in China have recovered, with 4,735 still active. China has seen the peak of this virus, and managed to further curb its spread internally by implementing draconian surveillance methods – but they worked. 

Comparatively, the first case of Covid-19 appeared in Italy at the end of January. The government did little to stop travel around the country, and young people (in particular) who were asymptomatic took it and spread it as they traveled home to be with their families. Since then, Italy has implemented a lockdown but the numbers are still absolutely terrifying. 

In the US, the first case appeared on 20 January 2020, and not much has been done to curb the virus since. While Trump has implemented a travel ban from Europe, there has yet to be a nationwide shutdown. Instead, people are being encouraged to self-isolate at home, and models from Imperial College London suggest that as many as 2.2 million Americans could die from the virus within a year if there are not further efforts put in place to “flatten the curve.”  

Spain saw its first case on 31 January, and have since implemented measures to prevent the spread of the virus. They currently have the fourth-largest Covid-19 outbreak in the world, and it took until last week for the government to actually implement a nationwide lockdown

In the UK, Boris Johnson has urged members of the public to “stay at home” and flatten the curve. “From this evening I must give the British people a very simple instruction – you must stay at home,” he said. Starting from last night, residents of the country will only be able to leave their homes for “very limited purposes.” This comes as the UK tops more than 6,600 cases. 

Other countries response to COVID-19

When we look at how countries have responded to the Covid-19 outbreak from day 1 to week 5, some have been more proactive than others. Singapore and Taiwan have both been lauded for their early containment of the virus, with each country only registering 509 and 215 cases respectively. 

South Africa, the African country with the most Covid-19 cases to date, is officially entering into a nationwide lockdown at 23:59 on Thursday 26 March, following an announcement from President Cyril Ramaphosa. SA currently had 554 cases a day before the lockdown. 

More needs to be done to curb the spread of COVID-19

From day 1 to week 5, when we look at how countries have responded to the Covid-19 outbreak, it’s clear that more needs to be done. In order to truly “flatten the curve” isolation and quarantine are absolutely essential. Governments around the world need to follow the lead of countries like Taiwan, Singapore, and China to effectively contain the spread. Otherwise, we could be looking at something even more catastrophic playing out. 

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