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Europe has now become the epicentre of the pandemic.
75 per cent of the world's new coronavirus cases
are now being reported in Europe.
And in the worst affected countries, Italy and Spain,
death tolls are rising faster than they
did in China at the very start of the epidemic.
Other European countries and the US
are expected to follow Italy's lead.
If they do, it's predicted that death rates in these countries
will continue to climb by 33 per cent every day.
This is despite signs that China is getting the outbreak there
under control.
And neighbouring countries, like Hong Kong and Singapore,
have managed to contain the virus more effectively
than Europe.
So why the difference between east and west?
And what could it mean for the west's recovery?
The first reason is the lack of testing
that western health services have been able to carry out.
We have a simple message for all countries - test, test, test.
The World Health Organisation has made its position
on testing absolutely clear.
You can't know what you're up against until you
know who's infected.
South Korea set up drive-through centres
designed to keep people away from hospitals
and to deliver results to them within hours.
It's meant that they've been able to test thousands
more potentially infected people every day,
all helping isolation efforts and reducing
the risk of spread.
Meanwhile, testing in most western countries
is somewhere between a quarter and a tenth
of Korea's capacity.
The reason testing is so inadequate
in the west is down to another key factor, lack of resources.
There's simply aren't enough testing kits to go around.
But that's no longer the most important concern.
While Japan and South Korea have seven hospital
beds per 1,000 people, the UK, US and Italy have just two.
And Western countries are scrambling
to repurpose ventilators, which are going
to be needed for patients with severe symptoms,
even committing to building them from scratch in some cases.
Beyond the physical capability of health systems
to test for and treat the disease,
there are many more less tangible differences
between east and west, which may create just
as much divergence between each region's coronavirus response.
Call it culture, politics, behaviour - for me,
it comes down to mentality.
China was able to impose strict sanctions because of the way
Beijing governs its people from top down.
But eastern democracies have done a better job
of containing the virus by being transparent and clear
in their public health instructions.
And the people in those countries have obeyed.
The leaders of the US and the UK have
started to speak more openly and more often
to the general public.
But the reaction of people across Europe
has, to put it mildly, been mixed.
This isn't wagging the finger at western democracies.
The response was the same in the east
when Sars first hit in 2003.
But since that shared trauma the countries worst affected
have reacted by overhauling their health
systems to make sure they were prepared for the next crisis.
Those hard lessons have put them in good stead.
Whereas the west is catching up with a crisis
it never really expected.
Europe and the United States will likely
take longer to adapt, which means more cases, more deaths,
and a longer recovery period.
But if there is any long-term consolation,
it's that lessons will be learned,
both from the eastern experience and from our own.
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為何西方國家更難處理新冠肺炎 (Coronavirus: why the west will be hit harder FT)

45 分類 收藏
洪子雯 發佈於 2020 年 3 月 19 日
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