As the number of COVID-19 Coronavirus cases in the US and Europe increases daily, what can the West learn from the East about virus control?
There has been a huge difference in how the coronavirus pandemic has evolved in different countries. Some have gone nearly two months with just a few dozen cases; others have seen an outbreak explode in weeks.
The 2003 epidemic was responsible for more than 8,000 cases of SARS in 29 countries, resulting in 774 SARS-related deaths. Age was an important factor in mortality, with those aged 60 or over accounting for over half of the deaths. A percentage of patients who contracted and survived SARS ended up with long-term conditions, such as depression or anxiety, cough, shortness of breath, chronic lung disease or kidney disease. However, most patients fully recovered.
The SARS virus shook a large percentage of the Eastern world and many countries vowed to be prepared if another pandemic were to occur. Fast forward to 2020 where over 22,000 people have now died from the COVID-19 Coronavirus – the majority of those deaths happened within Europe.
The difference between SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2, is that almost all patients were symptomatic in 2003 so they were easy to identify and isolate. However, many individuals dealing with today’s COVID-19 are unknowingly asymptomatic and continue to spread the virus to others.
Many of the countries that have had the greatest success in containing COVID-19 are ones that were affected by SARS in 2002-03. Despite countries such as South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore neighbouring China, immensely strict policies have helped to reduce and slow infection rates – putting Western countries to shame. Success in the East comes from their governments’ speed in imposing crucial quarantine rules. Policies such as early travel restrictions, aggressive testing and crowd monitoring have managed to contain, reduce and slow infection rates, with many Eastern countries now reporting less than 10 deaths.
The East has decided to adopt very different techniques to the US and Europe, acting fast and monitoring the state. Invasive measures such as surveillance cameras, police officers, contact-tracing teams and even Bluetooth apps have all helped to combat the number of cases. However, the higher degree of acceptance of being monitored by the state is much more evident in the East, compared to the West.
For many Eastern countries, mask-wearing was a cultural norm, even before the Coronavirus outbreak. In East Asia, many people are used to wearing face masks when they are sick, when it’s hayfever season or to protect themselves from population and poor air quality. The SARS outbreak also drove home the importance of wearing masks, with many residents wearing face masks daily when they venture into public places, work or use public transport. At the height of COVID-19, many residents lined up overnight outside shops to buy face masks. South Korea, Singapore and Japan have distributed face masks to residents. Taiwan and Thailand have even banned the export of masks to meet soaring local demand. Experts believe that wearing a mask is not just for protecting yourself from getting infected, but also minimising the chance of potential infection harbouring in your body from spreading to people around you – an ideology that isn’t shared in the West.
As well as stricter measures being implemented, countries such as China are also using complementary medicine in the fight against Coronavirus. 95% of Coronavirus patients in China received herbal remedies alongside antiviral drugs, with 92% of those showing faster improvement in symptoms than those who did not receive herbal medicine. Chinese herbal medicine proved effective in shortening recovery time and other complementary therapies such as TaiChi, acupuncture and massage therapy being recommended to improve mental health. China’s President, Xi Jinping, has endorsed Traditional Chinese Medicine as a reputable treatment for COVID-19 to benefit the human immune system.
The first Coronavirus cases in Taiwan and Italy came just 10 days apart. On Sunday, the death toll in Italy was over 4,000 people. Italy’s epidemic is currently the most devastating in the world, with over 2,000 deaths in just one day. The crisis is being repeated across western counties, with Spain, France, Germany, the UK and with the US now speculated to become the new epicentre of the pandemic. Tens of millions of people from Berlin to Madrid to San Francisco are now locked down, with no clear vision of when it will all be over. But had these countries acted a few weeks earlier, perhaps they could have avoided much of the human tragedy and curbed economic catastrophe we now face.
At this time of crisis, the West has never needed more support from the East. China has sent groups of medical experts to Italy and Western countries are turning on Chinese medicine more than ever.
To support the fight against Coronavirus in Europe, we have developed preventative formulas with the FTCMP. The formulas contain a combination of Qi boosting and immune-supporting herbs to clear damp. The three herbal formulas suit different body constitutions for all individuals. Each formula is made from our concentrated herbal granules in our in-house ATCM/RCHM approved dispensary. Find out more here.
Although the war against COVID-19 may be hard, especially here in the West, we are here to support our industry and to protect as many patients as possible.
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