Special Report

What Countries With Some Success Against the Coronavirus Are Doing to Flatten the Curve

Source: Photo by Mikhail Svetlov / Getty Images News via Getty Images

> Measure: Shutting border with China
> COVID-19 confirmed cases: 18,328
> COVID-19 related deaths: 148
> Population: 145.2 million

For a country of about 145 million people, Russia has had relatively few confirmed COVID-19 cases — more than 18,300 cases as of April 13. This is about as many as in the Scandinavian region, which comprises Denmark, Sweden, and Finland, and has a population of about 21 million. Russia took drastic steps to prevent the spread, such as shutting down its 2,600-mile border with China as early as Jan. 30.

Russia started testing widely for the coronavirus, isolating suspected cases, urging physical distancing, and tracing people who may have been in contact with infected people, also as early as January. Arriving passengers from hotspots such as China or Iran were tested at airports regardless of whether they exhibited any symptoms in February.

Now, all international flights have been grounded. In Moscow, the worst affected area, all nonessential business and activity, car-sharing services, and construction works were suspended as of April 13. Long-distance rail travel for World War II veterans, which is free, has also been halted starting April 13 to encourage older people to stay home.

Source: Sean Gallup / Getty Images News via Getty Images

> Measure: A lot of testing done early
> COVID-19 confirmed cases: 123,016
> COVID-19 related deaths: 2,799
> Population: 83.2 million

Germany’s case fatality rate from COVID-19 of just about 2% is far lower than in many other countries. As of April 14, the country of about 83 million people had 123,016 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 2,799 deaths. In comparison, nearby Italy and Spain’s case fatality rates are about 13% and 10%, respectively.

Germany was quick to track all the people that the first confirmed sick person had come in contact with and quarantine them. The country also banned all travel to China and even closed a Chinese factory in Bavaria to contain the outbreak. The same steps were taken in other parts of Germany. Visits to elederly people in homes were stopped early on.

Germany started testing people — more than in other European countries — as soon as the first COVID-19 cases were confirmed. This allowed for early detection of possible outbreaks within the country.

Source: Thinkstock

> Measure: Early full closure of institutions and shutting borders
> COVID-19 confirmed cases: 6,318
> COVID-19 related deaths: 285
> Population: 5.8 million

Denmark took swift action to address the spread of COVID-19. On March 11, the Danes limited assembly to no more than 10 people, shuttered libraries, schools, gyms, salons, and restaurants. Denmark was also one of the first European countries to close all of its public schools and its border, doing so on March 14. The Scandinavian nation banned all festivals until September.

Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Fredericksen credited her nation’s success to fighting the outbreak with its willingness to unite to address the crisis, including practicing self-isolation. Danes approve of the government’s handling of the crisis, with 86% supporting Denmark’s measures, according to one poll. Most restrictions will remain in place until May 10, when the government is set to take another look at the protocols in place.

> Measure: Limit gatherings to 50 people, voluntary measures
> COVID-19 confirmed cases: 10,483
> COVID-19 related deaths: 899
> Population: 10.1 million

Sweden has a unique approach. The country has largely stayed open for business since the pandemic began and emphasized self-restraint and individual responsibility, an approach that contrasts with other nations’ approach of strict lockdowns. One of the reasons for Sweden’s hands-off approach is that its constitution does not permit government officials to become deeply involved with administrative officials such as health care authorities. The nation also has a high level of trust in its institutions.

The Scandinavian country closed high schools and universities but kept grade schools, pubs and restaurants open. Its border, too, remained open. The nation’s health officials emphasized hand-washing, physical distancing, and protecting those over the age of 70.

The country avoided a mass outbreak when many other countries were struggling, and some still are, to contain the pandemic. Lately, however, Sweden is seeing an increase in fatality rate and the government warned thousands more may die.

Source: Chris Hyde / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

> Measure: No gatherings of more than 2 people
> COVID-19 confirmed cases: 6,359
> COVID-19 related deaths: 61
> Population: 20 million

The growth in COVID-19 cases in Australia has already slowed, but physical distancing rules remain in place to prevent a surge of new coronavirus cases. As of April 13, there were 6,359 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 61 deaths. This is a fatality rate of barely 1%. On March 30, the government reported that the growth rate of new infections had slowed to an average of 9% over the past three days from about 30% a week earlier.

Strict physical distancing rules were put into place, including no public meetings of more than two people, and the rules are enforced. Those found to have broken the rules may have to pay a hefty fine and / or face jail time. State borders, cruise ports, cafes, clubs, parks, and gyms have been closed.

Even though the curve has begun to flatten in Australia, the government is not ending the lockdown yet. Restrictions may ease over time, including reopening of some businesses, but that will likely not happen for at least a few more weeks.

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