Tel-Hai Magazine - Fall 2020

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Asia Points the Way to Recovery from the Covid-19 Pandemic

ver the past few months, it seems that the states of East Asia, both democratic and non-democratic, have succeeded in the struggle with the Corona virus much better than other countries elsewhere. In China, even in Wuhan, the ground zero of the outbreak, life has gotten back on track. New cases that are discovered are handled rapidly by locking down entire neighborhoods and performing widespread inspections in order to enable the return to normal life in the rest of the country. As these words are written, the Government of China has launched a massive operation to screen every single one of the nine million residents of the city of Qingdao within five days (!) due to only twelve cases discovered in the local hospital. As we write these words, spending the Tishrei Holidays ensconced in our homes, China is also in the midst of a holiday and vacation packed week, with the Mid-Autumn Festival occurring this year in the same week as the national holiday. Given the worldwide crisis, the swarms of Chinese tourists who rush overseas every October, will instead supplement the hundreds of millions of internal tourists, a vast mass including around 40% of the entire population of China (some 600 million people) who annually spread out, traveling around the country, packing the train, hotels, local tourism sites and internal flights. The previous vacation week in which hundreds of millions of travelers packed China's highways and alleys took place during Chinese New Year, in the dark shadow of the early news concerning the Corona virus, and symbolized the deep social and economic crisis caused by the plague. Now, it seems like many consider the national holiday week to be a symbol of China's success in the struggle against the pandemic. Taiwan has stood out as one of the most conspicuous success stories in the struggle against corona, with the number of cases diagnosed in it as of early October being only 510, with a total of seven dead (in a population of 23 million people), thanks to its rapid response in immediately and completely sealing the borders as soon as the existence of a mysterious virus in Wuhan became known, and utilizing systems set up following earlier outbreaks of diseases such as SARS in 2003. It did all this without shutting down either its economy or education system. Taiwan was therefore able to preserve positive economic growth (even if it was lower than the past), held a presidential election in January 2020, and currently provides support to many countries around the world with equipment vital for handling the disease. Vietnam (1096 cases and 35 dead), China's neighbor to the south, and even Hong Kong (5114 cases), which is managed as an autonomy under Chinese sovereignty, rapidly placed social restrictions and closed their borders to China, long before European states did the same, and there too notable successes were noted in halting the spread of the disease.

Dr. Oded Abt Dr. Dror Kochan

Magazine, Fall 2020

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