Covid-19 Comparisons

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Covid-19 Comparisons

Post by HEPZIBAH »

Is it right that countries, and the way their governments have reacted to, and acted on, the Coronavirus Covid-19 are held up for comparison?

It seems to me too many people are complaining that their country didn't do this, that, or the other. Equally, many are using other countries as examples of who did good or bad. But can we realistically compare countries? Each have their own demographics, economy, geography, social structure, etc. The data and statistics must be different for all - and hence the prevention, treatment, overall management, surely must be different. Yes, there will be similarities, but a wren and an ostrich have similarities too - both have feathers, wings, and a beak, but in everything else they are incredibly different and would need treating differently too.

As this is a completely new 'plague' to invade our world, there was no set precedence or procedure to follow, other than to build on existing knowledge of previous similar, but by no means the same, viruses. The world had to start building on that knowledge, and also on information (and misinformation) coming out of China, a country that is not known for sharing facts, and recording systems were questionable. What little information known did warn the rest of the world, but could it really prepare us?

Across the world: Lessons have been learnt. Mistakes have been made. More lessons are yet to be learnt.
Will we progress from this? We hope so, but that progression is likely to mean different things to individuals and to countries. We can only wait and see... and hope we live long enough to do so if it is going to be better than what we had before.


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Re: Covid-19 Comparisons

Post by newcastle »

Quite right.

And I would add to the possible differences ethnicity and climate.

Whilst it’s too early to say whether these have any bearing on the susceptibility of the population to the virus, it’s too early to rule it out.

What’s struck me is the different reaction we’re seeing to COVID-19 than we did to SARS, MERS Ebola etc. I was vaguely aware of these epidemics but they barely impinged on life generally.

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Re: Covid-19 Comparisons

Post by HEPZIBAH »

newcastle wrote:
Thu Apr 23, 2020 11:55 am
Quite right.

And I would add to the possible differences ethnicity and climate.
Exactly! They were sort of covered in my etc. My mind had a list of differences but they didn't all reach my fingers and keyboard.
newcastle wrote:
Thu Apr 23, 2020 11:55 am
Whilst it’s too early to say whether these have any bearing on the susceptibility of the population to the virus, it’s too early to rule it out.
Yes, which is why only time will tell. There will be many scientific papers and historical records written on this pandemic. Let's hope they help in the future.
newcastle wrote:
Thu Apr 23, 2020 11:55 am
What’s struck me is the different reaction we’re seeing to COVID-19 than we did to SARS, MERS Ebola etc. I was vaguely aware of these epidemics but they barely impinged on life generally.
I don't remember much about SARS, certainly not MERS, but Ebola was well publicised. However, it was very much something that was going on 'over there' wherever there was, much as Covid-19 was originally. Although Ebola was, and still is, catastrophic to the populations hit by it, it did seem to be contained to a degree. That being said, I read the other day that it is on the increase again in one African country (forgotton which one at the moment - want to say Congo but I could well be wrong).
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Re: Covid-19 Comparisons

Post by Angela »

Comparison is necessary, especially as all countries are learning as they go along.

I think it is appropriate to compare the situation in the UK with other large Western European countries such as Germany who have carried out more tests than the UK and have fewer deaths. Angela Merkel has a Doctorate in one of the Sciences, I believe and this has enabled her to recognise the significant threat to Public Health and take the appropriate action. Also, Germany very quickly organised testing of large numbers of people, quickly and efficiently. The UK states that they do not have the same facilities as Germany to be able to do this. This crisis has shone a light on the UK and the fact that we are a services-based country who manufacture very little. Our manufacturing capabilities, or lack of, are highlighted time and time again. Germany had access to numerous private laboratories, whereas the UK did not, again, this has helped Germany in regards to testing. I have also read that in Germany they ask COVID-19 patients to admit to the hospital much quicker than the UK which some analysts have discussed as to whether this has positively impacted the death rate. They have more ICU beds to the UK, again, it is easy to say that this is down to underfunding of the NHS but this would need to be investigated further.

In contrast, I hear some people in Egypt constantly call for a lockdown like has taken place in Europe and other countries around the world. I believe that Africa will face different challenges and we cannot apply the same interventions here in Egypt. For example, many people are day workers, scrabbling for daily labouring and if they do not find it, they do not eat. The country cannot afford to financially support all these people. If they locked down the population with no financial aid there would be civil unrest. To be honest, if they'd locked down the UK with zero financial support there would likely be civil unrest.

The average age in Egypt is 24 compared to 40 in the UK and 47 in Italy. In some respects, the young population may help ease the death rate while the high levels of Diabetes Type 2 and Hep-C may exasperate it. The area along the Nile is more densely populated than London (the most densely populated in the UK) which makes it difficult to social distance. People live in multigenerational households often in overcrowded conditions which will increase the spread.

So yes, I think it is completely appropriate to make comparisons between countries and how they have dealt with the crisis. However, alongside this critical thinking needs to be applied and recognition of the barriers and challenges that each country faces.

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Re: Covid-19 Comparisons

Post by HEPZIBAH »

I think perhaps I wasn't clear enough in my OP.

I do think comparisons are important, but they have to be done with the correct information to start with.

At the time I wrote, I know that I was fed up to the back teeth of hearing people going on, and on, about how things had been handled in other countries and why hadn't we done xyz or if only we'd done this then blah blah...and a fair bit of 'my country did it better than your country' too... but there was no background understanding or appreciation that there may be good reasons why things were being handled differently.

I do believe that comparisons have to be made, that statistics have to be compared, etc. but that all has to be done within the right framework. I'm neither a scientist, mathematician, or analyst so I cannot even begin to suggest what that framework should be, but I am sure that nationally and internationally there are more than well equipped boffins who are working on this even now.
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Re: Covid-19 Comparisons

Post by Angela »

HEPZIBAH wrote:
Sun Apr 26, 2020 7:13 pm
I think perhaps I wasn't clear enough in my OP.

I do think comparisons are important, but they have to be done with the correct information to start with.

At the time I wrote, I know that I was fed up to the back teeth of hearing people going on, and on, about how things had been handled in other countries and why hadn't we done xyz or if only we'd done this then blah blah...and a fair bit of 'my country did it better than your country' too... but there was no background understanding or appreciation that there may be good reasons why things were being handled differently.

I do believe that comparisons have to be made, that statistics have to be compared, etc. but that all has to be done within the right framework. I'm neither a scientist, mathematician, or analyst so I cannot even begin to suggest what that framework should be, but I am sure that nationally and internationally there are more than well-equipped boffins who are working on this even now.
I understood what you meant. I was saying that comparisons are fine, just as long as people acknowledge the differences that you mention. For example, I have been really impressed with Jacinda Adhern's response in New Zealand and her swift and decisive action has no doubt saved lots of lives. But having said that, they are a country with a fraction of the population and lots more space 1.5 million square miles vs the UK's 95,000 square miles :o. Also, we have a major international hub, Heathrow with thousands of people flying in daily. The list goes on. So I think it is good to talk about the good and bad things that different countries have done but important to also acknowledge that what is possible in one country, isn't possible in another.

I think that the UK has made a poor job of the COVID-19 situation and I'm not saying that with hindsight either. The press conference where Boris said "I need to level with you, you may lose your loved ones" was the point he should have shut the country down and even then it was still a little on the late side. Despite all the warnings I still think we were just in disbelief that we would be hit as hard as the likes of Italy. Is this a legacy from all the health scares in the past that hasn't impacted us directly? SARS, MERS, Ebola? Probably. I certainly didn't sit up and take notice initially because we've heard it so many times in the press how we are going to face millions of deaths from a new virus...only we don't. A bit like the boy that cried wolf. But it is ok for us as citizens to make that mistake. Not the Government though, who have access to the best Scientists and Epidemiologists in the country. I still think the UK is going for a 'soft herd immunity'.

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Re: Covid-19 Comparisons

Post by HEPZIBAH »

Angela wrote:
Sun Apr 26, 2020 7:32 pm

For example, I have been really impressed with Jacinda Adhern's response in New Zealand and her swift and decisive action has no doubt saved lots of lives. But having said that, they are a country with a fraction of the population and lots more space 1.5 million square miles vs the UK's 95,000 square miles.
An aside ... the above reminds me...
I have a good friend who was on a three week trekking holiday in New Zealand in March. Thankfully she was on an organised tour with a reputable UK travel company and not just doing it herself. They had been trekking in a remote area for a few days and once they got to an area where there was a phone signal the leaders phone was full of missed calls and urgent texts. The company wanted to get them to the airport asap. They'd already been working on getting flights out of Auckland for all those that were flights inclusive. My friend was on the last flight back to the UK - very happily upgraded to 1st Class. Those who had booked their own flights were finding it very difficult getting flights back to their various home countries.

Interestingly, no information was given out on the flight about what to expect on arrival in the UK, and in fact when they did arrive there was no leaflets or any information given on quarantining or isolating for a period.
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Re: Covid-19 Comparisons

Post by Angela »

I know of three separate groups of people that were repatriated from Egypt the last couple of weeks of March and beginning of April. As you mention above, there was no information given about quarantine or isolating on arrival into the UK and all of them just walked through arrivals, business as usual. It's only been the last week or so that the media seem to have picked up on it. This is one of my reason why I feel the UK is going for a 'herd immunity light". I have heard some people say that it is pointless quarantining new arrival as COVID-19 is already rife in the community. But for me, that just makes a mockery of 'lockdown', the same theory could apply. What the point of staying home? After all, it is already rife in the community? Every minister asked about it somehow manages to give the impression that it is all completely normal and they are being guided by science.

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Re: Covid-19 Comparisons

Post by Yildez »

Although Turkish airports are closed to incoming international flights, Turkey has been repatriating its citizens from all over the world. On arrival they are taken - no ifs or buts - to a quarantine facility - there is no choice of location, the government decides that - and kept there for 14 days. They are then taken to their homes, as free travel is not allowed. Draconian maybe, but it seems to be working.

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Re: Covid-19 Comparisons

Post by HEPZIBAH »

Yildez, the Turkish quarantine model sounds like the ideal scenario, and one which sadly doesn't seem to be inplementented enough or at all elsewhere.

As Istanbul airport is one of the largest transfer hubs, is that still functioning as such or has it closed completely? I know there are not the same flight requirements now, but imagine some of the repatriation flights, which still seem to be taking place, would need transfers at some point.
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Re: Covid-19 Comparisons

Post by newcastle »

Many countries have closed their borders to all but returning citizens.

In addition to Turkey, many countries require their citizens to quarantine, either voluntarily in their own homes, or mandatorily in special centres, This has had very successful outcomes in places like Taiwan and New Zealand.

It’s got to the point in UK where the introduction of quarantining arrivals would be tantamount to an admission that they’d got it wrong for several weeks.

Ergo....the repetition of the mantra that it would be of limited use.

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Re: Covid-19 Comparisons

Post by Yildez »

HEPZIBAH wrote:
Mon Apr 27, 2020 7:11 am
Yildez, the Turkish quarantine model sounds like the ideal scenario, and one which sadly doesn't seem to be inplementented enough or at all elsewhere.

As Istanbul airport is one of the largest transfer hubs, is that still functioning as such or has it closed completely? I know there are not the same flight requirements now, but imagine some of the repatriation flights, which still seem to be taking place, would need transfers at some point.
All the international and domestic airports have been closed for some time, with the exception of some repatriation flights for UK nationals from Turkey, and the incoming ones for Turks. As far as I’m aware there are no transits through Istanbul, although I know that cargo aircraft are still functioning. There are no domestic flights, and intercity/inter province travel, whether by bus or private car, requires special permission from the local Muhtar (headman) or local governor. To get permission you have to show that your journey is absolutely necessary - a hospital appointment, funeral of a close relative etc. Permission is refused for travel to summer homes - which is very necessary for towns like Datca where we have a huge influx of summer visitors from Istanbul, which has 60% of Corvid 19 cases.

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