The COVID-19 pandemic continues to infect millions of people around the world, with the US leading in case numbers and deaths. For those living in the US, the pandemic has been affecting people’s daily lives since early spring. While the US remains the spotlight of media coverage for COVID-19, there is a wide mixture of the number of cases around the world. Taiwan, New Zealand, Iceland, and various countries in Africa are seeing the lowest amount of COVID-19 cases. On the other hand, India, Brazil, and Russia are ranked just below the US in having the highest number of cases. Brazil is totaling around two million cases, sitting below the US which currently has four million cases. The leading country, in terms of the number of diagnosed cases per day, is India, having doubled the US in terms of new COVID-19 cases on July 27th, at about 46k, when compared to the 24k the US saw.
While many countries are still under some restrictions or quarantine regulations to combat the increasing number of cases, other countries such as New Zealand are seeing almost completely normal day to day life. Very early on, New Zealand completely closed off its borders to the rest of the world to ensure that the virus was not leaving or entering the country. A four staged alert system was put into place in the Pacific country in order to give citizens and the government a way to identify the current COVID-19 situation. The system specifies risk assessments and ranges of measures for each of the four levels. These early on approaches that New Zealand immediately took has allowed them to recover fast. While all schools there have been back in session (something the US, Brazil, India and many other countries won’t be seeing for another season), there are recent doubts over another surge of cases. On August 19th, New Zealand counted 6 new cases of COVID-19 after being clear for weeks. Therefore, it is uncertain whether this will create another lockdown for New Zealand yet.
The World Health Organization (WHO) pointed towards Vietnam as an example of fighting the pandemic due to its successful approach in keeping cases low at the beginning of the pandemic. One journalist from ABC News commented that “Vietnam has a lot of experience in dealing with infectious disease outbreaks and what they’re doing is applying the tools…”. Although the country was almost back to normal, unfortunately, Vietnam has seen a rise in active cases and deaths in the past week. Currently, cases (numbered to be almost 100) have been detected in the capital and Ho Chi Minh City and about 14 other provinces and cities.
One country that has yet to make any headline in the media due to its isolation from the rest of the world, North Korea, still has not officially announced a single COVID-19 case. Local sources and media have mentioned that the first suspected case appeared around July 26th from a man on the border of Kaesong. Kim Jong Un reportedly commented that “the person in question was actually a defector who fled South Korea back into North Korea in mid-July.” Therefore, when WHO questioned the COVID-19 test results of the man, a North Korean representative stated that it was inconclusive. The North Korean government continues to promote washing hands, wearing masks, and staying distanced through its state-sponsored media channels. Along with these precautions, North Korea has also stepped up in its border control since the start of the virus, with a larger presence of soldiers stationed.
All over the world, it is unclear when COVID-19 will no longer be a danger to those around us. While there is a lot of work and research being done for a vaccine, very few researchers have made it to phase 3 of the trials and none have been approved yet for public use. Some of the researchers leading phase 3 of these vaccine trials include the University of Oxford/AstraZeneca, Moderna/NIAID (American biotech company), and Sinovac (a Chinese company). It is still unknown when any of these trials will be able to move towards approval and the timing of when a vaccine would be available to the public. Russia recently announced to the world, on August 11th, that a vaccine had been approved for use and was stated to be “effective enough” by President Putin. Although, controversy has followed this announcement because Russia’s vaccine has not completed phase 3 of testing. Many global health authorities see phase 3 as the most critical phase to test a vaccine’s effectiveness and safety. Until any of these vaccines are successfully approved and proven effective, precautionary measures, quarantine, and restrictions will remain in place all over the world to control the spread of COVID-19.
For more daily updates on COVID-19 around the world, check out @coronavirus_country by Cinny Lin.