Global Intelligence Briefing March 4, 2020: Coronavirus management

By Chris Woods

March 4, 2020

Welcome to Global Intelligence Briefing, the Mandarin’s morning update on everything in local and global government responses to the COVID-19 coronavirus.

Lockdown tactics: brutal, but efficient

In one of the most important but overlooked reports of recent memory, a WHO-China joint mission found last week that, despite creating plenty of perfectly valid criticism, the government’s “bold approach” to containing the coronavirus has seen the number of new cases plummet.

Based on WHO situation reports, Global Biosecurity’s graph demonstrates how China’s lockdown efforts have helped reduce new coronavirus cases.

Now, a new Science paper both unpacks that initial report and examines why other countries morally and/or practically would not be able to follow the Chinese government’s authoritarian, highly efficient lead.

Stem cell trial a success

In less morally-challenging success stories from China, a new Chinaxiv.org study reported by the South China Post has found that a critically ill patient made a startling, two-day recovery after undergoing stem cell therapy. The report concludes that, “although only one case was shown here, it could be very important and inspire similar clinical practices in treating critically ill Covid-19 patients.”

Please let me test people: NYC doctor

New York City physician Dr. Matt McCarthy has told CNBC that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s muddled response to developing and distributing diagnostic tests — which The Mandarin covered in more detail yesterday — means that his hospital, and others across the country, still do not have access to test kits.

As US residents recount trying and failing to self-report — and, as CNN explains, how the lack of universal healthcare means even those who succeed face thousands of dollars in fees — the CDC has made the strange decision to stop publishing new test figures.

Data-segregation by gender

In early February, Think Global Health unpacked how, considering gender inequities exacerbate outbreaks but were overlooked or smudged during SARS and Ebola, the coronavirus offers multiple forms of intersectional analysis, from the spike in healthcare work vs compensation, the impact of surveillance and racism on marginalised communities, whether sexual and reproductive health needs are being met, and who, exactly, is making decisions behind all this (spoiler: men).

For a more recent example, check out Slate’s break-down of the hand-washing gender gap.

Local publications launch dedicated and/or packed coverage

Now, it would be remiss of us not to note some of the best analysis and research from Australian experts.

First and foremost are our friends at Croakey, who have launched dedicated coverage of the virus that includes, via the Public Health Association of Australia, research on empowering First Nations people in the fight against the virus.

Of course, The Conversation had a simply packed day with analysis of the RBA rate cut, the first economic modelling of coronavirus scenarios, compulsory isolation as a clash between human rights and public health, and a guide to parents worried about children contracting the virus.

Meanwhile, on the home front…

As state and territory governments make various announcements, it might be worth bookmarking state health updates to the virus: Victoria, NSW, Queensland, ACT, South Australia, Tasmania, Northern Territory and Western Australia.

Keeping it short and sharp, Queensland Health’s page includes three portals to public, clinical and industry information.

Note also that while the richer states offer a real smorgasbord of local guides — Victoria, for example, covers general health, advice for healthcare professionals, information for the state’s Chinese community, and other education, travel, workforce, and food standards information — governments such as the NT have little more than official updates and information on quarantined communities.

Finally, at the federal level, there’s also the federal Department of Health’s guide, health alerts, public sector advice, and now-activated emergency response plan, which breaks down both Australia’s national approach and multi-stage operational plan.

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