The COVID-19 is a human tragedy that has more than 120,000 infections, plus 4,000 deaths, and slowly shutting down the global economy. Humans are still responding to a hit by a worldwide tsunami causing disruptions on movements. The coronavirus introduces the aspect of social isolation, affecting the labor force, and eventually leading to the closure of factories.
The spread of COVID-19 is forcing governments and, by extension, healthcare and vaccine researchers to use the pandemic as an opportunity to mitigate its spreading. In world history, previous epidemics lead to drastic changes, which could worsen its effects on the entire economy.
COVID-19 has forced countries to use war powers to control movements and gatherings. Some governments are exercising executive orders by putting in place measures to control the spread of the disease. Such actions are not limited to working or staying at home, maintaining reasonable social distance, avoiding shaking of hands, using hand sanitizers, and covering your mouth when sneezing, among others.
We will look at the different government responses to the spread of coronavirus.
At the initial epicenter of coronavirus, the imposition of travel advisories was not well received by the people as they saw it as a drastic measure that would not limit the spread of the virus. People were still in shock, waiting to see how movements could be controlled in and out of Wuhan.
There are indications to prove that the spread of the virus took more time before moving to the next host. It took at least three days. The initial idea behind the closing of borders leading to other countries was to prevent spreading the virus to other parts of the world.
The restriction of people after a pandemic strikes in different parts of the country may still lead to a spike in new cases. Governments are still struggling to find a way to prevent the spread from one person to the next. Putting up travel bans will only work well if combined with reliable COVID-19 detection system, the use of isolation, and proper handwashing measures using soap and sanitizers.
When coronavirus spread outside China, The United States and Canada took action and barred all inbound flight, and specifically from China. The moment the virus became a pandemic, new guidelines were to include closing their borders to all visitors.
Other forms of restrictions governments use to control people's movement from one place to another include:
Governments are enforcing border controls by opening specific border posts to allow for screening of incoming visitors. These are visitors from specific countries. People who intend to use a border post as a transit point to another country cannot pass.
Any flight that comes through the borders is taken to an airport with quarantine and coronavirus testing facilities. The government is coordinating efforts with airlines and airports to avoid inconvenience to travelers. The idea of border controls is to prevent a traveler who has tested positive for COVID-19 from going past the borders and spreading the virus.
When the World Health Organisation declared coronavirus a pandemic, most governments decided to issue an alert on travelers getting into the country to self-isolate for a given number of days. Workers who help with movement of goods and services are also required to undergo testing before reporting to their workstations.
Border officials have enough training that enables them to identify visitors coming in who may pose a health risk to others. Such cases go through an assessment before gaining entry. Such measures complement routine travelers' health screening to control the spread of COVID-19 in or out of the country.
Millions of people around the world have found themselves in familiar territory but with different laws. The scramble by governments to set up new a way of controlling the pandemic from spreading across cities. Various governments are choosing methods that best suit them. That is why in one country, schools are still open, and in others, learning continues.
Lockdown depends on how severely a region or country is affected. For instance, in the UK, the reason behind the non-closure of schools is that there is a low infection rate in Europe. Countries such as Spain and Italy have countrywide lockdowns that also includes shutting all businesses.
In some countries like France, people are required to stay indoors or face fines for ignoring the warnings. However, not all regions have stringent rules. The United Kingdom is advising its citizens not to venture into non-essential activities away from home.
France has deployed more than 100,000 police officers on the streets to help enforce the coronavirus lockdown. Anybody who wants to leave their homes will have to justify where they are going. The French government gives an appointed leader a document explaining the reason for their movements.
The European Union announced shutting down external borders to non-essential travels. Some countries surrounding the European Union have chosen to block their borders even though some are still allowing movements from one country to another.
The United States is responding to the coronavirus pandemic with different approaches. Some states are on total lockdown, while others are still grappling with choosing an effort that works effectively. There are scenarios where a country is doing one thing and another city doing something different, leading to confusion and chaos.
Such restrictions are similar to what we have across the Asian continent and a case in point; a few days ago, a lockdown in the Philippines and Malaysia are now in place.
Social distancing takes many forms. For instance, in the US, the federal government gave guidelines that should guide the country for the next 15 days. Such include staying clear of groups with more than 10 people and staying away from entertainment joints and restaurants.
To maintain the distance, San Francisco wants its citizens to embrace the indoor lifestyle and leave when in need of essentials such as groceries, hospital visits, reporting to a police station, gas station, etc.
Governments are advising their citizens to establish a social distance to help in curbing coronavirus human transmission. The move is essential mostly to children. Virology experts agree that stopping an outbreak now is not easy, and the best way to keep it at bay is through the practice of social distancing.
Limiting contact with the other person reduces transmission. Governments that enforce social distancing before an outbreak receive slow infection rates. Russia is one good example.
The idea is to bring down viral spread by curtailing its exponential growth in the population, which is a big challenge for countries not able to enforce such measures. Look at the African continent at large.
Amid the pandemic, some countries see the relevance of using legislations in response to the crisis. In the US, the government is looking at the possibility of mailing cheques. Depending on the severity of the pandemic, new fiscal packages come into effect to reflect the situation of the day. Here are approaches governments use
Some countries are sending checks in the shortest time possible. Every taxpayer will receive an amount that reflects the income level and size of the family. Another way of sharing the financial burden is by allowing for a payroll tax.
In Australia, a business that has suffered due to coronavirus can get a loan with low interest rates to help in recovery.
A coronavirus act was passed on the floor of the senate in the US to call on employers to give a two week paid leave if they contract coronavirus. The sick leave provision expires at the end of the year. People on quarantine should receive a three-month medical leave. The sick leave section applies to companies with less than 50 employees.
The government proposes to issue food assistance for low-income mothers who are either pregnant or have young children. Some governments are opting to use food stamps legislations to replenish your stock once a week. In Australia, you can use food stamps if you lost your job due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Some states are proposing the provision of unemployment benefits marking it as temporary unemployment during the outbreak.
In the United States, all interest on student loans will receive a waiver until further notice. Students will now enjoy credits without the worry of accumulating interests.
Australia is running an emergency utility bills help in case you are unable to manage yours due to the effects of coronavirus. The emergency fund should help you pay the pending utility bills.
Governments that want to be seen walking their talk are choosing to push non-essential functions aside. The approach makes sense in countries with a steady supply of internet and power connectivity.
On the other hand, countries that do not have to worry about security and communication programs can facilitate the work-from-home approach. All possible clients who may come to visit the respective government offices need to be informed to show up only for essential services to reduce the spread of coronavirus.
Viruses should never be a political issue. They infect and affect people across the political landscape. At such a time, politicians should be looking for ways of coming up with bi-partisan efforts in the wake of such pandemics.
Governments come up with issues on helping people who are likely to face job cuts or lose their monthly wages. Such steps keep them from polarisation taking the coronavirus pandemic out of politics.
Following the current events in Italy and Spain, governments like the United States are grappling with availing testing centers on regions with high levels of new infections. Governments now consider testing cases to avoid transmission through infections to others.
Tests are now extending to public hospitals as well to make testing widely available.
Most governments have issues relating to their immigration policies, which has an impact on how the virus spreads. Coming up with a less aggressive plan to encourage immigrants to get tested is something the undocumented view with skepticism.
There is a lot of dynamism on the coronavirus status in every country with the virus. In China, there are no new infections in Wuhan, the ground zero of the global epidemic. It is advisable to follow your government briefings and stay up to date.
Governments always want to show some form of control when they are ahead of rumors, especially on a matter that is affecting a whole country. Failure to do that, citizens will find comfort in the news that does not have their interests at heart.
The government spokesperson should be punctual and share any new developments. The announcements have data on new infections, re-infections, recoveries, and death. Every time there is a news update on COVID-19, it should end until there is a new development.
Governments have the power to quell people's anxiety by explaining to them measures to take to reduce transmission. Advise on the next place to go when they suspect they could be having the symptoms of COVID-19.
There is a global effort that is evident in the war against coronavirus pandemic. Both researchers and healthcare facilities have a significant role to play in bringing down this disease. The use of data models and simulations will help in the fight against the spread of coronavirus.
The political and public health officials weigh in on the advantages and disadvantages of some of these measures. For example, closure of schools piles up pressure on single parents who may lose their jobs and interfere with children who depend on school for other things. But sometimes, humanity has to opt for the less severe problem to save lives.
What governments are doing is a show of substantial efforts to keep the government and markets operational, to limit the spread of the virus, and to cut down the number of deaths resulting from it. In the background, they are using research and models to identify possible risks and possible side effects of vaccines. They are also using available technologies in healthcare as they work towards the same goal of defeating the virus.
Whatever your government is doing, take heed and follow instructions to be safe. Don’t forget to keep the highest standards of hygiene.