Western countries are lagging in their battle against COVID – 19. In almost all of the countries in the Western world, not enough testing is being done, healthcare professionals do not have the adequate equipment, lack of or no contact tracing of COVID – 19 cases, and failure of the general public to observe social distancing properly. There is a sense that Western countries are out of their depth.
This week we have seen the deaths of two teenagers from COVID–19 in the UK – one fatality was 13 and did not have an underlying health condition. As a Brit, I am struggling to understand why the UK response has been so lacking given our relatively good record of dealing with major crises and incidents.
With global confirmed cases approaching 900,000, I’ve been reflecting on some of the responses governments across the world have put in place to deal with COVID–19. While most countries in the East, especially in the Far East have responded impressively and mobilized resources at short notice, what is still lacking in the West is a coordinated and more aggressive response overall. The battle against COVID-19 must be fought on several fronts. What we need to see all governments do is:
- Ensure medical specialists treating COVID-19 patients have adequate equipment and appropriate facilities for treatment
- Expand the level of testing of frontline healthcare staff, and increase testing of the general public through dedicated testing centres or home testing kits
- COVID–19 testing of employees in companies that have more than 250 employees.
More contact tracing through enhanced surveillance of COVID–19 cases. South Korean have been quite successful at this through their dedicated app. There are critics to this approach as it raises privacy concerns, but this is like wartime, and desperate times call for drastic measures
- Better and consistent enforcement of the lockdown protocol to guarantee the success of social distancing
- Government stimulus packages for the aviation sector and airlines. Potential job losses at Swissport, Dnata, Menzies Aviation, Virgin would be devastating for the world economy. We will need them once COVID -19 recedes to help us get back to reality and reuniting people that are currently stuck overseas and are living apart from their relatives
- Rigorous monitoring of passengers at seaport, airports and transit points to serve as the first line of defence. Because we are about a year away from a COVID-19 vaccine, this monitoring should be indefinite as we are expecting a second wave of COVID–19 in the winter months, albeit with lesser ferocity
- Schools should remain closed until the infection rate drops significantly
There is still much that we do not know about COVID-19, but Western governments need to be on the front foot, and they will only be able to do that if they adopt the best practices of other countries that have been successful in their COVID – 19 response.