“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller
Learning a Lot
When the coronavirus began to spread in China late last year, it was poorly understood. Both the disease itself and the best strategies for dealing with it were largely unknown.
In the relatively short time since then, we’ve learned a huge amount. The symptoms of the disease and how it differs from other similar ailments are now well known not just by medical professionals but by millions of people around the world. How the disease spreads, how long it takes to manifest, its rates of morbidity and mortality – these things have all come into focus. Our understanding of them keeps improving by the day.
The footprint of the virus is spreading fast, but so is human understanding of it and our ability to respond.
The Asian Example
That response is being shaped by the most successful examples, which have been seen in Asia. Taiwan, which received the virus around the same time as Italy, has seen a fraction of that country’s infection and death rates. Like Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore acted fast and so have seen a fraction of the suffering now visible in many European countries. Even South Korea, initially hard hit by the disease, has brought the crisis under control through increasingly rigorous measures.
The policies that have brought success are clear. Early travel restrictions, strict quarantine rules, and rigorous testing of patients and their contacts have been crucial to fighting the disease. Proactive communication with the public and clear structures for managing the response have been crucial to getting this done.
These are the success stories, their rate of infection well below the 33% daily increase that has been common elsewhere.
These countries have succeeded through collaboration. Their governments and medical staff have worked closely together, relying on each other’s expertise. Each country has learned from the others’ examples and from the experience of the past, in particular the Sars outbreak of 2003.
There have also been great signs of collaboration elsewhere in the world. Cuban doctors leaving their country to support medics in Europe. Medical equipment sent from China to aid the relief effort in Italy. No-one stands alone.
We’ve come so far already because this is how humanity works. Whether it’s in art, science, or commerce, we do better when we collaborate with others, when we build upon the examples they show and the lessons they learn, when we offer our own insights and assistance to help others grow. It’s a collaboration not just with our colleagues, not just with our contemporaries, but with the people who came before us, like the doctors and nurses who battled Sars.
Things may look bleak now, but we’ve come a long way already in battling this virus, building on the examples of Asian countries. We’ll got even further as we work together, because this is what humanity does best.