Could COVID-19 Reshape Global Leadership?

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      If there is a suspected COVID-19 case in a building, the whole building is quarantined for two weeks, but quarantine Vietnam-style includes three meals a day, delivered for a small charge. All large buildings have whole-body sanitizing stations, not just hand sanitizer, at every entrance. Vietnam is using empty hotels as quarantine sites, with house-calls from a doctor as part of the service. Everybody in Vietnam wears a mask, and there have been no reports of price gouging, panic buying, or hoarding.

      Another of China’s neighbors, Taiwan, has developed a different approach to COVID-19, but it, too, has the benefit of a comprehensive public health system, with an emphasis on preventive care. With a huge number of daily flights between Taiwan and China, Taiwan began restricting flights into the country on December 31, 2019, nearly three months before the U.S. Like South Korea, Taiwan began COVID-19 testing on January 20, with contact tracing and testing and isolation of confirmed cases. But Taiwan has avoided a national lockdown and has not even closed its schools. Instead, it has installed dividers between students’ desks, so that all students have their own cubicles. It also rations its limited supply of masks, distributing a fixed number to each family. By March 30, Taiwan only had 306 confirmed cases, and only 5 people had died.

      Japan and Thailand both have low published figures for COVID-19 cases and deaths, but these figures may conceal unreported cases. Japan has the oldest population in the world, and already has a high incidence of pneumonia and respiratory diseases among its elderly. It is treating COVID-19 as a strictly medical problem, trying various experimental treatments, restricting COVID-19 testing and maintaining normal life as much as possible. Thailand has adopted a more conventional approach, and may also have many undetected cases. As of March 30, Japan had 1,866 cases and 54 deaths, while Thailand had 1,524 cases and only 9 deaths.

      Another country that is worth looking at is Venezuela, which was already in a very difficult situation. As many as 100,000 people are believed to have already died since 2017 as a result of brutal U.S. sanctions that prevent the import of medicines, food and other necessities. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres is calling for the lifting of sanctions, and many Americans support his call. The coming of COVID-19 to a country already in such dire straits is hard to imagine.

      Jesus: Hey, Dad? God: Yes, Son? Jesus: Western civilization followed me home. Can I keep it? God: Certainly not! And put it down this minute--you don't know where it's been! Tom Robbins in Another Roadside Attraction

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