Today, let’s look at the different strategies to control the Coronavirus disease. This way, we can all understand, and once we have understood, convince others on a strategy for Mauritius. Because it depends on us. The Biro Saniter is already doing an excellent job of “trace-and-test” which is what the WHO calls for.
But, to understand strategies, let’s first look at the time-line of the first month since the new disease began to emerge and be identified. This is important because it reminds us that the disease was only first detected on 12 December 2019. We do not have even four months of experience in how to handle it, as societies. So we have to learn fast.
Given how quickly the virus has since spread all over the world, we have to take our hats off to the Chinese people that they managed to act as quickly as they did and give us, in the rest of the world, a head start. Many other big, developed countries have been overwhelmed by the epidemic, and there have been attempts to avoid blame by somehow blaming China. But here is the true timeline (reconstructed for this article from W.H.O, BBC, NY Times, and Wikipedia)
12 to 29 Dec 2019: Handful of cases of unusual pneumonia detected in Wuhan, China.
30 Dec: Wuhan reports unusual pneumonia cases to central Chinese government.
31 Dec: China reports to WHO about dozens of cases of this pneumonia of unknown cause.
5 Jan 2020 - China announces that pneumonia virus not SARS, not MERS.
Announces retrospective study of outbreak.
9 Jan - Chinese authorities identify the virus as a novel Coronavirus.
WHO first names it 2019-nCoV, then later re-names it SARS-CoV-2
Everyone still calls it “Novel Coronavirus” and the illness it produces “Covid 19”.
11January – First death in China announced.
12 Jan - China completes genetic sequencing of virus, places it in the public domain.
People begin to work, world-wide on treatments and vaccines.
13 Jan – Thailand reports case, someone arrived from Wuhan.
16 Jan – Japan reports case, someone back from Wuhan.
17 Jan – Second death in China.
USA announces screening at some airports.
20 Jan - China reports 139 new cases of the sickness, and third death.
We see the fast spread that will later become familiar.
20 Jan – First case in South Korea. (Today: 9,887 cases, 165 deaths – as of today)
compared to the USA, first case the next day.
21 Jan – First case in USA. (Today: 188,592 cases; 4,056 deaths – as of today)
22 Jan – Wuhan 17 deaths, 547 cases; its airport and stations closed for departures.
So, to conclude, two points:
1. The Covid-19 illness spreads fast and causes a great deal of illness and death.
2. The strategies of South Korea and the USA have led to different outcomes, to date:
Testing-and-tracing method of South Korea 9,887 cases, 165 deaths
USA dithering around with testing: 188,592 cases; 4,056 deaths
The USA now has more than TWICE as MANY cases as China, and more deaths.
This is why LALIT agrees with the Government strategy of total curfew. It has been tried and tested in South Korea, and even in China, which was taken off guard by the outbreak. A village in Italy tried it, and it worked, while the rest of Italy went into crisis.
Our problem with the Mauritian Government’s initial policy is that total curfew is only possible if there is:
- full assurance amongst the people that we will get food, gas and medicines. And it is much easier if there is a social contract going forward. (See “Towards a Working Class Program for the Lockdown”.) It all depends upon a sophisticated people following instructions given by a Regime they might not like because it is, nevertheless, in our interests based on our Program.
We want the lockdown to work, and we have to convince people with arguments like those above that we must make the lockdown work. The quicker we manage a proper lockdown, the sooner we can begin to see the end of the tunnel.
for LALIT, a personal view.