The novel coronavirus has slithered its way across the globe for over a year now. Resulting in more than 154 million cases and over 3 million deaths. Some countries have dealt with these turbulent months better than others. Lockdowns commanded at different times, considering various strategies, and restrictions varied in severity from the government to government. Various countries have rapidly rolled out COVID-19 vaccines – along with COVID passports – in a bid to combat the virus. But, there are Countries that handled COVID-19 the best.
Here is the list of Countries that handled COVID-19 the best.
1. Taiwan (1,153 cases, 12 deaths)
Before the coronavirus even recorded on the radars of other governments, Taiwan was testing and isolating travelers from Wuhan, China.
The island’s networks with China gave it a clear view of the original epicenter of the now-global pandemic, enabling it to act fresh – deploying a containment strategy that has proven to be one of the most successful in the world.
The island also used technology to trace surmised cases and is still doing so today. Also, if a citizen tests positive, they are provided with a quarantine hotel and cab. Taiwan also maintained a stockpile of face masks and other medical care to control any outbreaks prior to the coronavirus pandemic.
The outbreak of SARS in 2003 critically impacted Taiwan, leaving it with the third most infections in the world. The country has since strengthened its preparations for the next pandemic, including setting up an infectious disease prevention network and holding annual drills in hospitals.
In October 2020, this small country reached a record 200 days without any domestically spread cases of COVID-19.
Most of these cases were from people traveling from Indonesia. So, in line with Taiwan’s rigid strategy – the government directed coronavirus testing on all Indonesian migrant workers undergoing quarantine in quarantine centers. Affirming this strategy, Taiwan was able to contain the outbreak – a great example among the Countries that handled COVID-19 the best.
2. New Zealand (2,629 cases, 26 deaths)
New Zealand wasted no time in preventing the spread of COVID-19 in its country.
On 28 January 2020, the Ministry of Health set up the National Health Coordination Centre to react to the outbreak. An Infectious and Notifiable Diseases Order was issued to take effect from 30 January 2020. This required health practitioners to report any suspected cases under the Health Act 1956. This was the first barrier of protection for New Zealand.
Travel restrictions to and from other countries imposed as early as February 2020, and on 23 March 2020, New Zealand committed to an elimination strategy. The country reported 102 cases and 0 deaths when Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that New Zealand was going to rapidly escalating levels of social distancing and travel restrictions, reaching the level of a full national lockdown on 26 March 2020.
Rather than just ‘flattening the curve’, New Zealand took a more aggressive ‘disease elimination’ approach. Very impressive for a country that never experienced a major pandemic, and been barely affected by SARS.
Over a year on since New Zealand’s first lockdown, and the country is still swift to respond to new cases. In November, health authorities partially shut down the central city of Auckland, asking workers in the city to stay home after just one student became infected with COVID-19.
3. Iceland (6,491 cases, 29 deaths)
Iceland’s success is partly down to its tiny population of around 364,000 – but early vigilance and action were also key to keeping down the case numbers.
Health officials rushed in to contain the spread earlier than most countries, whilst the government quickly built a team of contact tracers. This team would interview those with a positive diagnosis, and track down people they’d been in contact with. As a result, the country has not faced one of the large-scale lockdowns seen across the world.
Another huge reason why Iceland has been successful is that people stayed indoors. If a person suspected to have the virus, they were told to stay inside while the government covered the individual’s full salary.
4. Singapore (61,252 cases, 31 deaths)
Timely preparation, aggressive testing, tracing of carriers, and a bit of luck helped limit the impact of COVID-19 in Singapore. The city-state’s comparatively small population of 5.7 million people and experience of SARS in 2003 gave it the upper hand against the encroaching virus.
The government tightened border controls almost immediately after the disease first erupted in China – whilst also providing a clear public communication strategy. Despite having high case numbers, many have questioned why Singapore’s mortality rate is so low.
More than 90% of Singapore’s recent cases are low-wage foreign workers living in dormitories.
More recently, the government in Singapore announced that pupils over the age of seven must use the city state’s contact-tracing app or wearable device from December 2020 onwards. Hopefully, this will combat the transmission of COVID-19 to older family members.
5. Vietnam (2,995 cases, 35 deaths)
When the first coronavirus case was confirmed in Vietnam on 23 January 2020, its emergency plan was immediately put into action – months before other countries had even considered taking any precautions. The country brought in travel restrictions, closely monitored. Eventually, closed the border with China, and increased health checks at borders.
Schools closed for the Lunar New Year holiday at the end of January 2020 and remained closed until mid-May. Plus, a vast and labor-intensive contact tracing operation went underway immediately.
Vietnam’s strategy worked extremely well. Fortunately, the government was ready to evacuate around 80,000 visitors in the city. The historic port city then sealed itself off from visitors and retreated into full lockdown.
Unfortunately, Vietnam started the New Year with another outbreak, this time triggered by the UK variant of the virus. However, by following the same strict measures, officials are confident they can keep it under control.