While the majority of Asian countries (China, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong) had little time to prepare for the Coronavirus, the various governments took immediate measures to cope with the outbreak.
In contrast, Europe and the United States of America had nearly two months to prepare their economic structures and supporting healthcare systems. Unfortunately, due to inadequate procedures taken, the European and American people are suffering a large daily fatality rate and almost complete shutdown of their economies. As a result of the current quarantine policies, markets are falling into a deep global recession, as mass unemployment and poverty rise daily.
While lockdown measures may slow the spread of the Covid-19, it does not eliminate it. The policies and steps taken thus far seems to raise more questions and uncertainty as opposed to offering concise answers or solutions. Afterall, what is the purpose of the current actions and policies executed by governments?
What will happen when these closures are removed and the virus spreads again? Will we need to continuously open and close markets for years to come?
There needs to be a more constructive way to combine targeted and efficient actions while maintaining a functioning economy. Countries such as Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Japan, and South Korea have accumulated significant knowledge and experience from previous epidemics and implemented with success some of the methods and strategies to be described later in this article.
According to tycoon magnate Yakir Gabay, the current quarantine lockdown measures across the United States of America and Europe will produce the worst recession of our generation, tremendous damage to the health care system, mass unemployment, poverty, and significantly more death than the virus itself. Yakir Gabay recently lectured on the crisis stating, “Under the current lockdown conditions, patient are postponing tests, surgeries, and other treatments which are causing a more significant number of deaths than the Corona virus itself”.
Medical experts agree that if lockdown measures continue, more people will die from non-related coronavirus diseases, and society in its entirety will suffer poverty and the collateral damage.
In this recent article, Yakir Gabay outlined four general principles that should guide the governmental decision-making process:
- Immediate strengthening of the healthcare system to treat a wider range of patients.
- Creating control, monitorial and measuring capabilities to reduce the spread of the virus through effective formats, but without lockdown of the economy.
- Budgeting research and development of a vaccine and medicine.
- Identifying the sick and separating them from the healthy which ultimately allows re-stimulating the economy with a workforce and financing necessary to care for victims.
According to Yakir Gabay, the following concrete steps are required and should be executed immediately:
- Training Medical Workers – There are millions of workers who have lost their jobs. These people are available for immediate employment. Governments must recruit existing medical students, and train millions of additional staff, all of which will be employed and paid to support the medical system when the influx of patients arrive (this may reach hundreds of millions worldwide). Training centers at hotels (that are now vacant) should be set up immediately to expedite the ability to provide the needed qualified support. This will bring people back to the workplace and ultimately solve the severe shortage of manpower in hospitals necessary to assist the healthcare system.
- Medical Equipment. Governments should immediately focus on establishing mass production lines for treatment solutions such as ventilators and other supporting equipment to deal with the epidemic. These production lines can be established using existing factories that are currently disabled. This will require a relatively small amount of investment, primarily with government grants. This equipment will significantly reduce potential deaths currently suffered due to lack of ventilation, oxygen machines and humidifying equipment.
- Coronavirus Antibody Testing: Testing should be conducted on the entire population. Several virologists report a high percentage of the victims contracting the virus have minor symptoms. This is supported by a recent study published in the British Medical Journal, reporting 78% of the cases testing positive for Covid-19 were asymptomatic, hence the infected revealed no symptoms. The people who tested positive (which means they are immune already) can go back to work. This can release to normal activity large part of the population which is now unnecessarily isolated.
- Virus Testing Kits: Government to fund, create and require the mass production of the kits for early and immediate (within 30 minutes after the test) detection of people who have active virus, which mean they would have to go into full isolation. The ability to have the accurate information as well as immediate monitoring of the infected is critical. Legislation must be past allowing governments to track spreaders of the virus. By employing “contact tracing” apps responsible for tracking the infected movements, the virus can be contained.
- Self-Isolation and Alternate Closures: For high-risk people, 70 years of age or older, or those above 60 years of age with preexisting health issues, should ensure their protective welfare and self-isolation for the coming months. The elderly represents 15-20 percent of the population but less than 5% of its active workforce. Manpower can be hired to tend to the elderly’s food shopping and personal needs.
- Treatment Facilities: Hotels and other vacant applicable facilities should be immediately converted into testing and isolation areas for non-critical care and rehabilitation treatment centers for isolated patients. This will solve the occupancy capacity shortage of hospitals and prevent home isolation that has so far failed to prove effectiveness, especially in small residences shared by others.
- Limited Population Control: Complete closure will only be imposed in very confined specific areas where there is a widespread breakout of the virus. After conducting rapid tests on the majority of the population, infected victims should be isolated in hotels converted for this purpose (and not home isolation).
- Temperature Checking: The entrance to every public place or venue (restaurants, hotels, offices, hospitals, shops, etc.) should be required to have staff dedicated to checking temperatures using digital, non-touch, and laser infrared thermometers. This strategy has been successfully implemented in Asian countries. If symptoms of the virus are detected, an immediate test can be performed.
- Banning Public Events: Till June 2020 social distancing, maintaining a 2 meter “minimum” space in queues, at restaurants, in public places, elevators, and especially in closed places. Even with the social distancing guidelines enforced, gatherings should be limited to no more than 20 people, and regular sterilization procedures should be performed on the hour. This policy should be monitored again in June 2020.
- Hand Gel Dispensers: Every establishment should be required to install hand gel dispensers. This includes bank branches, hotel receptions, restaurants (on every table), and be made available free of charge at all residential and office building entrances, including elevators.
- Face masks & Protective Equipment: Governments should procure billions of facemasks and distribute them free of charge. Legislation should be written requiring they are worn in public areas. This is already required in some countries and has proven to be very effective in limiting the spread of the virus. Virologists report a vast majority of the infected victims received the virus by touching contaminated objects (paper money, doorknobs, elevator buttons, gas pumps, can and cardboard wrapped food products at supermarkets, etc.). So naturally to prevent the spread, disposable gloves should also be recommended, for use both in the home and workplace.
- Education: While infected children are less prone to showing symptoms or getting sick, they can still host the virus and spread. Governments should require teachers educate and require children to practice hygienic procedures (cleaning hands, coughing, and sneezing on elbows, social distancing, disposable gloves, etc.). In addition, guidance, and education for the general public about healthy nutrition to strengthen the immune system to fight the virus. Obesity is one of the main contributors to high death rate from the virus. The long unnecessary lockdown increases the average weight of the population, which is another cause of death directly and indirectly.
- Vaccine Research Budget: All governments should allocate a percentage of their annual budget to researching and developing a vaccine and medicine for the virus. This should be done with a global cooperation and on a knowledge sharing basis.
- Reopen the Market: Immediate stop of the lockdown and return to an almost normal life should be a priority. This will allow the infected population to overcome the virus by receiving required treatment in suitable facilities (hotels and hospitals), without worrying about shortages in medical staff or equipment.
Unless the market is opened immediately, poverty will increase, crime will rise, and an overall loss of confidence in governing bodies will prevail. “Moving forward, what policy makers need to understand” explains Yakir Gabay, “the current lockdown concept causes significantly more deaths than the virus itself”.
According to Yakir Gabay, the success of local and global economies is not a luxury, rather a necessity designed to ensure the safety and stability of society and prevent severe widespread poverty.