Handling COVID-19: Lessons to Learn

As many of us know by now, coronaviruses are a large family of viruses such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV) that can cause illness ranging from the common cold to severe disease. The current coronavirus outbreak originated in Wuhan, China, and resulted in Chinese authorities locking down cities − restricting the movements of millions of people and suspending business operations, in an attempt to contain the spread of the disease.

Now, as of March 2020, the virus is already prevalent outside of China and has spread to 164 countries worldwide. On March 11th, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared it to be a global epidemic. Many countries are now fighting the battle with coronavirus, with some strategies appearing to be more effective than others.

When the virus began spreading outside of China, Singapore, which had direct flights to Wuhan, appeared to have a large-scale outbreak. In February, Singapore acted to implement travel bans on passengers from mainland China in order to reduce transmission.

In order to uncover the COVID-19 infections that might have slipped under the radar, Singapore’s health authorities decided to do early tests on all influenza-like and pneumonia cases. Their government started to raise awareness by using newspapers to urge citizens with mild symptoms to see a doctor and refrain from going to school or work. And the government provides free treatment and hospital bills for Singaporeans who are suspected or confirmed cases. Amidst the coronavirus outbreak, quarantine and isolation protocols are strictly enforced.

What Can We Learn?

This epidemic requires a quick response to halt the progress of the virus. Singapore’s effective response to the coronavirus outbreak was made possible by their transparency, comprehensive testing and their proactive behavior when it came to quick quarantining and isolation of suspected cases. Many other countries are now implementing travel bans and locking down cities to contain the outbreak.

Indonesia has limited resources when it comes to medical personnel and medical facilities. This is a concern now that confirmed cases here are spiking. For this reason, the government is asking citizens to refrain from going out in order to flatten the curve and avoid putting impossible pressure on the healthcare system.

The virus is spread through droplet infection; this is why it’s important to avoid touching your face and to wash your hands frequently, for a minimum of 20 seconds. Since we still don’t have a vaccine for this coronavirus, we have to act as a social vaccine; not getting infected and not infecting others. The best thing we can do is to stay at home, practicing social distancing and doing what we can to protect those service workers on the front line.

To ensure people remain vigilant and calm, the government needs to give regular updates on the current status and the actions they’re taking. As members of society, we have a big responsibility too and our actions will have a big impact on how this story unfolds. Don’t panic, don’t buy impulsively and empty stocks, and look out for neighbors who may need your help, especially the elderly. Practice social distancing and accept the reality that life will be quiet for a while. Use the time well; read, catch up movies, and learn a new skill online.

Covid-19 is a fast-moving epidemic and it is expected to cost many lives. If the number of patients gets too large, the health care systems will be unable to handle the situation. So it’s up to us, our self-awareness and our willingness to do the right thing to fight this battle. The short-term sacrifices we make now can save lives. For more details on how Covid-19 spreads and how we can fight it, click here.