Testing times: the world responds to covid-19

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For months much of the world has watched the story of the new corona virus unfold from a distance. Now it's facing up to the reality of the spread of covert Boutin. Yesterday California declared a state of emergency after announcing its first corona virus fatality. That brings America's death toll from the disease to eleven Britain reported its largest day-on-day increase in diagnoses yet. Eighty seven. People have now been infected. Italy were a hundred and seven. People have died as closed down every school in the country. For at least ten days every sporting event will be held behind closed. Doors in India citizens have been advised not to travel anywhere that has affected by the virus. That may soon be most of the world's countries yet. Despite the spread not every government is doing all that it should to prepare so countries that have very few cases in the range of about one hundred or two hundred cases are preparing for much bigger outbreak. Slovenia chunk of our is our healthcare correspondent in some cases. There is reasonable suspicion. That countries are actually on the reporting or perhaps Not Looking for cases. So they're just testing very broadly. In fact the World Health Organization has advised countries that already have cases to start testing more broadly including people with symptoms of pneumonia and people who perhaps have flu like symptoms but test. Negative for the flu when you say countries that don't have widespread outbreaks are preparing. What kind of policies of preparation are there? First and foremost it's Communicating to people that you know they should expect Things like Schools being closed mass public gatherings in canceled people being advised to work from home. So that's one way to prepare just communicate and have everybody plan and then behind the scenes. Governments are preparing their healthcare systems. So we know that with this disease. People were hospitalized need ventilators of the breathing machines which they may need for quite a long period of time so hospitals have to have some planning around the sort of excess capacity that they would need to have If an outbreak occurs that would require postponing nonessential or elective operations. That require having fewer people coming to hospital for various appointments so Expanding the use of telemedicine so you know people just having consultation remotely rather than coming in hospital the NHS here has talked about bringing back recently. Retired doctors and nurses If there was a shortage of staff so these are some of the measures that countries are considering at the moment but the most powerful tool is knowing precisely who's been infected in America. Yesterday the White House said it would expand testing for the disease nationally. After falsely blaming the Obama Administration for a shortage of testing kits. There are now at least one hundred fifty diagnosed cases in sixteen states. Ten of America's eleven deaths were in Washington state but the outbreak has also flared up in Texas and the BRASA. The first couple of weeks that America had to get its act together for the virus have not gone well. Columbia's are US policy correspondent. The administration was more focused on downplaying. The threat of the corona virus as opposed to preparing for it and the CDC try to create its own tests. It should have been testing lots of cities basically to try and contain the outbreak. Which would would have been inevitable. And the test didn't work. The first batches percent didn't operate as they should have. And that meant that. America's public health authorities were effectively flying blind in the first couple of weeks that they had to really get a grip on the virus before it started to spread as it has in so many other countries and no discussion of America's healthcare system doesn't end up in questions of of finance. Is that having effect on the way things are going here. Yeah absolutely so. In America. Twenty nine million people are uninsured. Which means that. If they go to the hospital they could be liable for paying the full cost of care. Which often is many times more than you would pay if you had insurance so for some people that could act as a big disincentive to get treatment. There are also many millions of people who have health insurance but who are nonetheless underinsured meaning that they have high deductibles. Or if you go to the hospital they have to pay a reasonably high share of the cost which means that for them as well if they were to start getting sick or feel ill. They might not want to go because they they worry about the bills. They have to receive. There is also another problem in America which has access to paid sick. Leave all of those things. I think could make fighting epidemic in America. A lot more difficult than it would in a western European country with universal healthcare system. And how is the American government responding now? The trump administration has floated the idea of compensating the uninsured for chronic virus treatment. Although we don't have full details yet congress is working on a package to pay for the virus response but we don't yet have details in America as elsewhere. One of the biggest concerns for more widespread outbreaks is that health systems will be overwhelmed. As both fears and diagnoses grow that threat is even greater in poorer regions in Africa. Very few countries have sufficient hospital capacity or the kind of specialist respiratory equipment. That's been deployed in China. That makes stopping infections in the first place even more pressing so the plan in Africa at the moment is really focus. Very much on containment. Kinley Salmon is our Africa correspondent that means tracking people who have been identified to have The disease and then looking at who? They've been under contact with and keeping really close surveillance on all of that. There have been some useful lessons from the crises particularly in West Africa. On how to do this well. Because it also means that communication's important getting people to wash their hands and to know what to do if they are infected to call in and inform people and so on and so that's also particularly important in Africa because so much of the population is young and reaching those people is not as easy as it has to reach people who are older and so using mediums like WHATSAPP instagram. For example or radio can be really effective. Another thing that really helps content goes viral and so for example Nigerian comedian depot has created a viral skip. That's already proved very popular suggesting how people can tackle some of the risk factors full covert nineteen tickets by asking. You just saw if I told you you watch one hundred. Tens of dealing with outbreaks once they occur Nigeria and a number of countries in in the region. Actually have quite a lot of experience with this because there are unfortunately other kinds of diseases which they also have to deal with. Outbreak solve fairly regularly team team from Nigeria Center for Disease. Control actually goes out about every week to investigate a new outbreak of some disease and so there is some experience of of how to do this. They use a particular APP that allows you know health workers to input information. Have it quickly centralized so that people can be tracked and so on? I think the challenge is much greater if scale is so vast that the the challenge for these countries becomes more about dealing with people who already sick than stopping people from getting sick at that point the lack of capacity hospitals. I will be a real problem.

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