This week remarks from the World Health Organization (WHO) pointed to two “essential elements” in fighting COVID-19 effectively. “Leaders must step up to take action and citizens need to embrace new measures.” The WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’s remarks this week pointed to a pair of regions where progress has been made both efficiently and effectively: Rwanda and New Zealand.
New Zealand (UPDATE)
New Zealand’s success is clear: No community transmission for 100 days straight. That landmark accomplishment was announced over the weekend by New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. UPDATE: Unfortunately, after 102 days, a Ministry of Health, NZ announcement revealed four new cases of COVID-19:
“This case is a wake-up call against any complacency that may have set in,” said NZ’s director-general of health, Dr. shley Bloomfield. “We cannot afford to let this virus spread.”
WHO director-general Dr. Ghebreyesus spoke about the success seen in containing the spread of COVID-19. Rwanda’s success, said, Dr. Ghebreyesus, is due to a combination of four elements:
• Strong Leadership
• Universal Health Coverage
• Well-supported health workers
• Clear public health communications
As noted by Dr. Ghebreyesus, each time a person is tested positive in Rwanda, they are isolated. Every potential contact of each covid-19-positive individual is visited by health workers for further testing. Perhaps most important to this equation is the fact that “all testing and treatment for COVID-19 is free in Rwanda, so there are no financial barriers to people getting tested.”
As noted by the US embassy in Rwanda, the Rwanda Biomedical Centre started offering voluntary COVID-19 tests on request, including for passengers on arriving and departing flights on July 28, 2020. These tests aren’t free, but they’re pretty close: “The tests cost $50 or 47,200 Rwf.” That’s how much it would’ve cost on July 28, 2020, if you were from out of the country and wanted to get a test done on yourself.
If you live in Rwanda right now, you’ll get tested for COVID-19 for free. As noted by NPR, it costs the Rwandan government between $50 and $100 to run one single coronavirus test.
In the United States, the stat of Ohio has a population roughly the same as that of the entirety of Rwanda. Ohio has been reporting an average of around 1,000 cases a day since July 1, 2020 according to the Ohio Department of Health. Since Rwanda’s first recorded case of COVID-19 in mid-March, they’ve recorded just over 1,500 cases, total.
COVID-19 update around the world
As of 19:00 GMT-5 on August 11, 2020, the World Health Organization showed a recorded 20,162,474 confirmed cases of COVID-19. This latest update included 737,417 confirmed deaths, and 216 countries, areas, or territories with cases. (This is also 5:05 PM CEST, August 12, 2020), as reported by WHO. You can watch the map with the WHO Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Dashboard right this minute.
These notes and figures and other commentary from the WHO can be found on the WHO homepage with updates on COVID-19, global pandemic, and related matters.