Room lights in a hotel form the shape of a heart in Jakarta on April 25 2020. The lights were turned on as a symbol of support, gratitude and love for medical workers on the front line of handling the COVD-19 pandemic. Rifqi Riyanto/INA Photo Agency/Sipa USA/AAP

Coronavirus weekly: leaders should heed experts and inspire the public to fight COVID-19

With more than 3 million people infected with the coronavirus worldwide, the COVID-19 pandemic provides two important and valuable lessons about the link between health research and public policy.

First, we need political leaders who are responsive and believe in science. Second, government policies should inspire the public to take part in the fight against COVID-19.

In most countries, there are no signs that COVID-19 have reached its apex. A third of the world’s confirmed cases are now in the United States. Even though the US has an advanced health system and a large budget for science and technology, the number of infections continues to grow, along with the death toll.

A critical variable in tackling SARS-CoV-2 is the kind of leadership provided by national leaders. New Zealand, for instance, was this week able to begin easing its lockdown.


This is our weekly round-up of expert information about the coronavirus.
The Conversation, a not-for-profit group, works with a wide range of academics across its global network. Together we produce evidence-based analysis and insights. The articles are free to read – there is no paywall – and to republish. Keep up to date with the latest research by reading our free newsletter .


This is the eighth weekly round-up. We, the global network health editors of The Conversation, summarise the articles that have been written by experts related to COVID-19.

Protecting vulnerable groups

Coronavirus is transmitted through droplets from an infected person’s coughs and sneezes. People confined either in detention centres or living with other people in cramped homes are at risk of infection due to the difficulty of achieving one to two metres of physical distancing.

Light at the end of the tunnel?

Self-isolation, regional quarantine and working from home for weeks due to this virus can cause acute fatigue and loneliness. But there does seem to be hope that more restrictions may be lifted soon. Some of our authors have considered the positives and look to how lockdowns can move to a new phase.

Inequality

Although coronavirus can attack all social groups, poor people suffer far more.

The role of political leaders

Presidents, prime ministers and health ministers are at the forefront in controlling the spread of COVID-19.

  • New Zealand stays vigilant. After four weeks of the most stringent lockdown in the world, New Zealand now records more people recovering from COVID-19 than new infections. But the threat has not ended as the country relaxes its lockdown. Arindam Basu from the University of Canterbury says entry from overseas will remain closed and a combination of testing and contact tracing will be increased to eradicate COVID-19.

  • Ecuador. Compared to Brazil and Venezuela, Ecuador has been more proactive in responding to the coronavirus epidemic, write Dennis Altman from La Trobe University and Juan Carlos Valarezo from Pontifical Catholic University of Ecuador. But even though the death rate is starting to slow, the spectre unburied bodies at home and in hospital alleyways hangs across the nation and Latin America.

As long as drug treatments and vaccines are yet to be available, control of COVID-19 will depend on political leaders creating evidence-based policies and on their ability to inspire trust and promote behaviour that can combat the virus.

This article was originally published in Indonesian

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