Dry run

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    AS the nCoV aka Wuhan coronavirus story unfolds – with more people getting infected than during the SARS outbreak – every country afflicted, from China to Canada, is bracing for the worst that can happen. And every country is realizing how much it is prepared – or not prepared – for the situation.

    What I am trying to find a silver lining in is the ratio of fatalities to infections. How many die is more important to me than how many get infected. And to me it seems that while the virus is highly transmissible, it is only really risky to individuals who have pre-existing conditions or, worse, have seriously compromised immune systems. To those otherwise healthy, it hopefully is just going to be a bad, bad case of the flu, nothing more.

    Because this coronavirus attack came, as always, when it was least expected, every country was caught unawares. And as the virus spread the deferment levels of preparedness began to show: some were more prepared than others whether it came to mobilizing resources, information dissemination or virus testing.

    We were one of those less prepared: we had to rely on test facilities in Australia to verify suspected nCoV cases. It made me wonder – wasn’t there a facility closer to home? Sydney is 8 hours away, Tokyo is four and Taiwan is 2.

    And then we had at least one case where someone who initially tested negative later on turned positive – and became the first casualty outside of China.

    Slowly, painfully but thankfully the world is coming to grips with the nCoV. In some countries more cases are being reported but no more fatalities. But information is going around and more people are becoming aware of what could be done to minimize coming down with the virus. Of course, there have been panic buying of masks and alcohol and sanitizing gels, but that too will wane as authorities successfully bring this under control.

    With travel restrictions in place that may not be far away.

    The most important part of all these is learning from the mistakes and addressing the weakness in the response system. Because coronavirus outbreaks are, in my opinion, here to stay.

    We therefore need to elevate our ability to respond to such a situation to such a degree that at the drop of a hat – or at a sneeze or cough – we can mobilize everyone, switch gears and move into a state of readiness.

    Let this be our dry run.

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