Author: Dalin Try
Editors: Ethan Liu and Liane Xu
Artist: Doris Tan
COVID-19 was first reported in Wuhan, China and it spread worldwide within the first few months of its discovery. Daily life came to a halt; travel was suspended and work became remote. Demand for hand sanitizers, Lysol sprays, and toilet paper surged. Initially, people expected developed countries, which have advanced medical equipment and leading experts, to have a better response towards the pandemic than developing countries. However, some developed countries, such as the U.S, actually had a more challenging time containing the virus due to factors such as a lack of enforcement for mask policies. On the other hand, South Korea, which experienced a sudden spike of virus cases in February, responded with strict mask requirements, lockdown, and suspension of most of the country's flights. This response paid off, allowing them to control the pandemic due to mass testing the population, even creating the drive-in testing to encourage testing for the citizens.
Places such as Taiwan were able to control the pandemic before it started by strictly monitoring flights between China and Taiwan to track for any potential cases—drawing on their experience from controlling the SARS outbreak in 2008. Southeast Asian countries have also experienced varying methods of success with developing countries. Cambodia, Laos, and Timor Leste have reported no deaths from COVID-19 due to constant testing and conducting extensive contact tracing. More developed countries such as South Korea, Taiwan, and Hong Kong have also developed apps for COVID-19 contact tracing. What seems to be a common trend in Asia’s success in controlling the pandemic is the population’s willingness to comply with newly placed measurements, and subsequently saving lives.
Overall, Asia’s success with fighting the pandemic involves the government’s response towards the pandemic. However, it could not have been successful without frontline workers working around the clock to treat patients and sacrificing their well-being for others. Citizens have also contributed towards their success by complying with the measurements placed rather than protesting against it. If more countries can take this pandemic more seriously and understand its impact, more lives would be saved.
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