Global coronavirus cases are on the rise. But not everywhere. – National
The world is seeing an uptick in novel coronavirus cases.
So far, 16.3 million people have been infected with the virus across the globe while 650,918 people have died, according to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University.
Reuters said it took five months to get to one million cases, 23 more days to get to three million and 87 more to get to 10 million. But which countries are still spiking?
Let’s start with the United States — the epicentre of the virus.
There are a variety of components that factor into why some countries are more heavily impacted by COVID-19 than others, experts previously interviewed by Global News said, including a country’s population’s median age, whether or not the country is a destination tourism zone, and government policies.
But as Colin Furness, an epidemiologist with the University of Toronto, said: the U.S. is a particularly “interesting” case.
As of Monday afternoon, Johns Hopkins University said the country had 4,238,500 confirmed cases of COVID-19. That’s almost double that of Brazil, which stands at 2,419,091, and a population of nearly 212 million — roughly two-thirds the size of the U.S., according to government figures.
More than 147,000 people in the U.S. have died from the virus, while just over 87,000 have died in Brazil.
Cases in the U.S. are spiking, with some states like Florida, California and Virginia recording upwards of 10,000 new cases per day.
Furness told Global News the spread of COVID-19 in the United States can be attributed to the “two layers” that make up the U.S. population.
“There’s the wealthy United States and then there’s the poor United States,” he said.
“A lot of people who inhabit the poor United States who have no access to health care, they’ve got really poor nutrition, poor education and so on, so forth… That’s where COVID-19 is really thriving.”
Furness added the U.S. “does not have and has never had” a strong public health infrastructure.
U.S. President Donald Trump has been heavily criticized by experts for playing politics with the pandemic. He’s called the crisis a “hoax,” threatened to pull funding from schools who refused to reopen and urged states to restart their economies despite rising case numbers.
In Brazil, President Jair Bolsonaro has been stoking anti-mask sentiment, shunning face masks at events, vetoing new legislation that would require Brazilians to wear masks indoors and showing up to demonstrations protesting against health ministry mask recommendations.
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By contrast, Reuters said 43 days passed between one million and two million confirmed cases in the U.S., where the spread of COVID-19 “eased briefly in May before accelerating again in June.”
“A patchwork of state and city responses has held up poorly in Brazil in the absence of a tightly coordinated policy from the federal government,” the Reuters analysis read.
“Bolsonaro, who tested positive for the virus last week, has played down its health risks and fought against social distancing orders, calling their economic effects worse than the disease itself.”
India is veering towards a similar path. It became the third country to cross one million cases of COVID-19, following Brazil and the U.S. The latest data from Johns Hopkins showed 1,435,616 residents had tested positive for the virus, while 650,029 had died.
The Associated Press reported India’s initial response to the virus as sluggish until March 24, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi locked down its entire population of 1.4 billion people and imposed a nationwide lockdown.
“If (the) situation is not handled in these 21 days, the country and your family could go back 21 years,” Modi had said in a televised address.
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In contrast, New Zealand and Taiwan have been lauded as successes for their response in containing the virus.
New Zealand was able to reopen its economy at the end of April after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made the decision to “go hard and go early,” locking down the country after its first 100 residents tested positive for COVID-19.
The country has seen 1,556 diagnoses and 22 deaths, according to Monday’s figures from Johns Hopkins.
Furness said that restricting all non-essential land, air and sea travel may have been the key to New Zealand’s triumphs — although it’s location as a geographically isolated island country surrounded by water and Antarctica to the south certainly helped. New Zealand is also sparsely populated at just over five million people as of March 2020.
“They took steps quickly. They were aggressive. Every country that acts quickly and aggressively, they come out on top,” he said.
Despite Taiwan’s dense population of over 23.5 million, Johns Hopkins said that to-date, the country maintains a low case count of 462 and seven deaths.
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In a letter to the World Health Organization signed by Canada, the U.S. and six other major allies reported on by The Canadian Press, leaders relayed that “Taiwan’s early success at controlling the pandemic qualifies it for a seat at the World Health Assembly meetings.”
The letter added that had Taiwan been allowed to share its findings with the rest of the world, “governments around the world could have had more complete information on which to base their public health policies.”
Furness also applauded Iceland in its containment of the virus for its aggressive testing strategy. Out of a population of 364,134 people, Johns Hopkins said the country had only reported 1,854 cases while ten people had died.
“They’re small and they don’t necessarily have strong public health infrastructure, but they just said ‘we’re just going to test everyone using a similar strategy to South Korea,’” he said.
“They said ‘we’re not going to lock down, but we’re going to test we’re going to figure this out. We’re going to chase this virus around and we’re going to give it no room. We’re going to test everybody.’”
South Korea was initially hailed as a success for its extensive testing record and stringent contact tracing methods, which helped keep the country’s COVID-19 outbreak under control. It recently announced its second wave of the virus, which was linked to a nightclub event in June.
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