Even as China, South Korea and Singapore make progress in controlling the new coronavirus, its spread is alarming in many more parts of the world as the pathogen’s toll on human health and world economies rises.
In the past week, many more citizens had to stay home in the hope that infection rates could be slowed down to prevent health systems from being overwhelmed. The collapse in consumer activity caused stock markets to swell, prompting governments and central banks to take steps to mitigate the blow of an expected global recession.
At the same time, public health authorities around the world are devising strategies to contain the spread, hoping to avoid the plight of the worst-hit countries, such as Iran and Italy, which have now had more deaths than China as a result of the virus. .
At The Conversation, editors work closely with academic experts in a range of disciplines from around the world to convey the scope of this fast-moving story and to help readers understand what it all means. In this third weekly column, some of the theme editors at The Conversation International network are covered here.
This is our weekly summary of expert information on the coronavirus.
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Public health reactions
Public health agencies have responded to the crisis in many different ways. Our experts explained how critical those differences are for each country’s track so far and possibly in the future.
Singapore, the model reaction? Singapore, which suffered from the SARS epidemic in the early 2000s, had a highly organized response that avoided, among other things, a containment. The chairman of infection control for the National University of Singapore, Dale Fisher, explains how the country did it and the lessons for other countries.
South Korea’s contact detection. South Korea has also been touted as a global model. One interesting aspect of his response is the adoption of surveillance systems, especially circuit television and the tracking of bank card and cellphone use, to control the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
The picture in Africa. Relatively few cases have been reported in Africa so far. Akebe Luther King Abia, research scientist at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa, explains why this is possible, adding that countries on the continent need to do much more to prepare their health systems and public responses. Meanwhile, among many people in South Africa, jokes are a common way to deal with.
Poor economic outlook
Even as governments deal with the pandemic, they are trying to prevent what is expected to be widespread economic pain caused by stopping so much economic activity. In the US, the White House and Congress are seeking to encourage economic activity through various measures, including tax cuts, business loans and the distribution of money to families, in the order of US $ 1,200 per taxpayer.
Direct payments to citizens is particularly beneficial to low-wage workers, many of whom will be hurt by the slowdown in consumer spending, says economist Steven Pressman of Colorado State University.
Low to middle income countries more vulnerable. Globally, the impact of the coronavirus could be worse on low- to middle-income countries and particularly vulnerable people, says public policy professor David Evans of Pardee RAND Graduate School and Mead Over of Georgetown University. As previous pandemics have shown, the short-term shocks to the economy usually translate into slow-moving long-term growth.
On the forefront of science
Scientists are rushing to get a better understanding of the new coronavirus, known as SARS-CoV-2.
Looking for the origin of the virus. Researcher Alexandre Hassanin, from Sorbonne Université, ISYEB – Institut de Systématique, Evolution, provides some context for one of the most troubling questions scientists face: does it originate in a bat or pangoline and where? He describes a recent genetic analysis that suggests that the “SARS-Cov-2 virus is the result of a recombination between two different viruses.” (Click here to read the original article in French.)
The search for anti-viral treatments. Can existing drugs work? Nevan Krogan, director of the Quantitative Biosciences Institute at the University of California, San Francisco, describes the work of a 22-hour research team working 24 hours a day to identify the most promising candidates for disarming this new virus.
The biology of why older people are more at risk. As scientists generate new data on how COVID-19 affects people, one point is very clear: Older people and those with chronic medical conditions are at greatest risk of getting serious illness or death. Brian Geiss, associate professor of microbiology, immunology, and pathology at Colorado State University, explains how changes to a person’s immune system as we age affect his ability to fight infections such as COVID-19.
Changes in daily life
For people who stay healthy and stay at home, the virus has changed many lives.
Confused children. Child development experts from the University of Calgary explain how parents can talk to their children about the pandemic.
Complex daily decisions. Many people who isolate themselves at home still have questions. Adam Kamradt-Scott of the University of Sydney conducts a more nuanced discussion on social distancing and tries to answer basic questions such as: Can I take the dog for a walk?
The psychological toll. Finally, one common thread across all countries is stressed individuals. Nita Bharti of the Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics at Pennsylvania State University offers some tips on how to maintain physical and mental health during this period.
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