Covid-19, unlike any other epidemic like Spanish flu, Sars, and Ebola, is extremely transmissive and has the potential to collapse an economy. Even though many developing countries have accumulated substantial experience and knowledge in dealing with previous epidemics, deadly mistakes can be made if Covid-19 is tackled with policy measures used in the past. As more developing countries impose containment measures to curb the spread of Covid-19, Xun Wu, Professor and Head of the Division of Public Policy at the HKUST suggest that they can look at what has worked or failed elsewhere. There are a few important facts that Wu believes decision makers in developing countries must take into consideration in coping with Covid-19 outbreak. The first lesson is that there is no time to waste in getting prepared for a full-scale pandemic. Immediate attention should be paid to scale up the capacity for quarantine, and mechanisms for ensuring food supply during the outbreak must be established and tested. Second, the effectiveness of stricter containment strategies cannot be taken for granted. Third, a shutdown of the local and national economy can possibly be prevented if effective efforts can be made to slow down the spread of the virus outbreak. Lastly, poor risk communication can be deadly and have tragic and irreversible consequences. Such mistakes could be even more costly for developing countries.
Read his column article published on 30 Mar on South China Morning Post.