First off, I do not mean this to become a political debate or to cause hysteria. As I work in clinical research (30 years translating/editing pulmonology and general surgery studies/clinical trials), I have been interested to see the different approaches used at containing the virus and informing the public around the world. I mean no offense, and I do not intend to single-out any country or government.
I have no first-hand knowledge of what happened in China, but there seemed to be controlled information and disinformation until things got out of hand. Then, there was a massive control effort (or that is what we were allowed/supposed to see). If anyone has any other insight, I would love to hear.
As for Italy, our cousin and family live in a town of Padua, and three neighboring towns are under quarantine. Our cousin, MariCristi, is a teacher. She and her college-aged daughter have been at home since Feb 21st, as local schools and colleges were closed. Today, the closures have been extended to cover the entire country - no school and no university until March 15th, at least. Ennio, her husband, is a repairman. He continues to work in the area, in peoples' homes, with a mask and gloves. MariCristi and her daughter only leave the home to go to the supermarket every few days. All major public events have been cancelled, although certain sporting events continue to be held behind closed doors. Travel to Italy has nearly come to a standstill.
Here in Spain, the number of cases have started to grow, all related with tourism to Italy. So, of course, I am starting to pay more attention.
But, the difference between European countries like Spain, Italy, the UK, Germany, etc., is that we have nationalized healthcare. Again, I am not advocating one political stance, nor am I criticizing another. However, as healthcare is publicly controlled here (with fewer resources than in the US), it would seem that a standardized approach for containment would be more uniform, correct?
For example, our national healthcare administration has published a protocol for the public. As of right now, in the containment phase, this protocol includes:
1) If you suspect having COVID-19, you should NOT go to the doctor or hospital. You are to call 112 (our 911), and they will determine your risk. An ambulance will be sent to your home to take a throat culture.
2) You are to remain at home until the results are in. If positive, you should remain in a room separate from other family members.
3) You will receive daily phone calls by medical staff. If required (high fever, dyspnea, etc), you will be hospitalized.
Of course, this all sounds well and good, with the aim of keeping potentially ill patients at home and out of clinics, GP offices, the ER, etc. This should be effective as an initial containment procedure. However, at some point the system could be overloaded, and our system is a poor one.
Here comes the sticky part: what happens in a country like the US, where medical care is private? Are patients supposed to go to their GP, ER, local clinic? Is there a protocol for containment? And, what about individuals/families without healthcare coverage?
I would also like to hear from HFers from other countries as this thing progresses, like
in Australia or participants from the UK and the EC countries. Information is knowledge! Or something close to it.