April 26, 2020
Topic: COVID-19: Situation across the Globe
In this session, we had 6 panelists with us across the different countries and time zones. The guests on the panel were:
- Ms. Sonal Chinchwadkar, consultant in the developing and learning skills department from Singapore.
- Mr. Ashutosh Joshi, who is an MBA from GLSCSM, Dubai. He works with the IT Distribution firm in Dubai.
- Ms. Shruti Rajhgharia, Law professor, English professor in Hong Kong. She has been a part of a project with the UN as well.
- Ms. Savita Tiwari, a journalist by profession in Mauritius. She writes about Island Nations in magazines around India, UK, USA and for the newspaper of Mauritius named La Dèfi Media.
- Mr. Utsah Dubey, a mechanical engineer and works with the Mining Industry in Australia.
- Mr. Gurvinder Bindra, an IT Professional from USA.
Compiled by Piyush Yadav
The session was facilitated by Ms. Priyanka Deo, a youtuber who runs the channel named New India Junction. The session gave the highlights of the ongoing situation at various places to the audience. Every country is facing the repercussions of the unannounced outbreak of Coronavirus at different scales and this session with our guests who come from different corners of the world gave a pretty clear picture that the virus brings much more other than just a deadly flu with it.
Ms. Priyanka first asked the guests how were the conditions in countries they are currently in and how soon the government started acting on the situation. Ms. Sonal cited that Singapore shutting its borders far back as in January, controlled the situation, hence from February to the first week of April the cases rose, at most, by 20’s everyday. Whereas in the USA Mr. Bindra said the escalation started owing to the lack of concentration on part of institutions due to the situation of Republican Vs Democratic in the country, for the elections coming. In Hong Kong, Ms. Shruti observed the major impact was in January first week and towards the end of Jan, she said they had no masks and toilet papers, even in the stores. The government immediately shut down all public places, especially the schools. In Mauritius, within two days of the first case, they had a full lockdown for 14 days with the agricultural ministry deciding to start their own production to substitute imports and further, drafting a bill on how they would survive post the pandemic. Mr. Aashutosh based in Dubai said from last month they have had a complete lockdown whereas earlier only a partial was in place and they were allowed to go out on specific time after the sterilisation process ,across the country. In Australia, 20 percent of the confirmed cases have been linked to a cruise incident, however no lockdown has been observed and all shops have kept open.
Ms. Priyanka then asked them about the healthcare services in their resident countries and how spread of the virus in common places like grocery stores, schools and offices is controlled?
In the US, since the healthcare mechanism was not ready to take care of such a crisis, the counts of infections increased, but in Hong Kong, the government offices were made to work from home and the private companies were let to decide who to call for force with only essential workforce allowed. In Mauritius it was followed that the health workers once placed in a hospital were not allowed to go home for the next 14 days and hence, after 14 days the new staff was allotted. The schools in Australia were kept open, only the people were asked to follow rules. The government also announced a stimulus package for the economy and ordered establishments if they don’t need people, don’t ask them to come but don’t sack them too, instead the government will pay $1500 per employee for keeping them on the payroll. For tenants and landlords, the government suggested they could defer mortgage for some time. In Dubai, no one was allowed to enter a grocery shop or travel in public transport without masks and gloves.
The guests were then asked about the views about people who now have to follow such rules, which is one of the biggest concerns. How did their governments actually ensure that there is a proper lockdown and rules are followed?
To make people follow the rules, in Hong Kong people were allowed entry to shops only if they had masks and even the government distributed free masks for people who ran out of it. The Dubai government launched a portal where one can fill in the necessities they need and only after getting a permit they could go out and if they had no permit they were fined or jailed.
In Singapore, the government kept on informing its people about the precautions twice a day through nationwide whatsapp messages. In the US, though the flights from China were stopped early, Chinese holding the green cardEB5 visa were still allowed to keep travelling to and from China on a regular basis, which was a big loophole. The government in Australia introduced a fine of $1000 on the spot for not following the rule of no more than 10 people at a place. Therefore, even after no such lockdown and shops remaining open, people strictly followed the rules for distancing and sanitization.
Finally, Ms. Priyanka asked all of them about the conditions now and what further actions are being taken in their respective countries.
The US government has closed all the schools till September, with all the college activities going online. Further, There are talks that schools will not even open till December. In Singapore, shutting the borders to ASEAN and Asia are keeping the things under control.. But in Dubai, As Ramzan has started, it is now open from 6 am to 10 pm but the permits are compulsory as earlier and the companies have been directed to work with only 30 percent workforce. In Hong Kong, all places will run with 50% of capacity and patrolled every hour until 7th May. Also, the people landing there are taken straight to a hotel where the government makes them rest and test, with results available in 24 hours.. The good news comes from Australia where no new cases have been reported in the last one week, as people have strictly followed all measures put in place. Even in Mauritius, there are only 24 active cases today down from 331 reported earlier.
Key Highlights of the Conversation:
- To make people follow the rules, in Hong Kong people were allowed entry to shops only if they had masks and even the government distributed free masks for people who ran out of it.
- The Dubai government launched a portal where one can fill in the necessities they need and only after getting a permit they could go out and if they had no permit they were fined or jailed.
- In the US, the healthcare mechanism was not ready to take care of such a crisis, hence the counts of infections continue to increase.
- In Singapore, the government has kept informing its people about the precautions to take twice a day through nationwide whatsapp messages.
- The US government has closed all the schools till September, with all the college activities going online.
- The Australian government also announced a stimulus package for the economy and ordered establishments if they don’t need people, don’t ask them to come but don’t sack them too, instead the government will pay $1500 per employee for keeping them on the payroll.
- The good news comes from Australia where no new cases have been reported in the last one week.
- In Mauritius, there are only 24 active cases now, down from 331 reported earlier.