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Covid-19 in the US: Will it be like Italy or can it mirror South Korea and Singapore’s success in containing the virus?

When it comes to testing the US seems to be lagging far behind, despite the fact that the genome for the virus has been made public since January

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All eyes are now on the United States, with America taking the pole position in the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases around the globe, with almost 165,000 people infected with the coronavirus. Over 3,000 people have died from Covid-19.

Whether the United States will be able to manage to copy the success rate of other nations, such as South Korea and Singapore, in controlling the outbreak, or whether it will follow in the footsteps of Italy, (where a sudden and exponential surge in cases overwhelmed their healthcare system), resulting in a higher case mortality rate than in many other countries, remains to be seen.

TIME magazine is currently plotting the number of daily new confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in six countries—the US, Italy, Germany, South Korea, Japan and Singapore, with the charts updated daily. The charts show how the countries “have either managed to stem the tide of the novel coronavirus, or are poised for an explosive growth in cases.”

Chart: TIME Magazine

Chart: TIME Magazine

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South Korea has shown the most success in dealing with the pandemic, with its graph showing an actual flat line. “To achieve a negative rate of infection within weeks is a triumph,” as the TIME article says. The country’s success is largely attributed to systems already in place because of its past experience with MERS five years ago. South Korea very quickly scaled up its testing capacities, put travel restrictions in place, and did aggressive contact tracing.

As for Singapore, TIME accredits the quick and decisive action the Government has taken in curbing the spread of Covid-19. Like South Korea, Singapore has also conducted aggressive contact tracing, with people who have been exposed to the coronavirus put into isolation at once. Furthermore, the Government paid for the bills for both testing and treatment.

According to TIME, “Without that sort of response, it’s likely that Singapore could resemble the state of affairs in the U.S. or Italy, where COVID-19 has spread rapidly and widely.”

Singapore and South Korea also have among the highest rates of coronavirus testing of its citizens done. Singapore has performed 6,800 tests per million citizens, and South Korea has done 6,000 tests per million.

When it comes to testing, the US is lagging far behind. The US and South Korea both saw the first people positive for Covid -19 in their countries at around the same time, January 20 and 21. (Singapore’s first case was on January 23).

South Korea sprang into action at once, and when they were at the point of testing 4,000 people per million, the US was only testing five people per million, despite the fact that the genome for the virus had been made public since January.

Despite US President Donald Trump having said at a White House briefing on Sunday (Mar 29), “We have more cases because we’re doing far more testing than anybody in the world,” the US is still behind even Italy.

Things are likely to change this week, however, with pharmaceutical firm Abbott just having been granted “emergency-use authorization” for a new test it has developed that can show results in as quickly as 15 minutes. Around 50,000 tests from Abbott can be performed daily. This may very well be the game-changer the United States needs in order to determine its future. —/TISG

Read related: Trump ditches hopes of quick virus bounce-back for US

Trump ditches hopes of quick virus bounce-back for US

 

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