Most Challenging Time of the Century
The Coronavirus or COVID-19 is a shocking experience for humankind. We are not ready to confront, diagnose, or even run away from it. We are all unprepared despite all the advancements that humans have achieved in many decades.
When I started thinking of preparing this article or brief collection of guidelines and practices, I felt that the world is experiencing a total uncertainty and darkness of its future, honestly speaking!
But I believe there's still hope... Only when we work together!
What prompts me to write this article is my experience in the last few weeks amidst the explosive spread of Coronavirus. When the breakout started in Wuhan (China), I felt that there is something big coming, just like some have thought!
Then it spread... Sincheonji (church) 's secretive religious activities expanded the transmission of COVID-19 through its believers. That particular incident made South Korea the second country in the world with the highest number of Coronavirus cases.
As a resident here, it was very alarming. The Korean government responded quickly, employing all possible means necessary to contain the outbreak. The country now seems to be doing fine... but European nations and the US are experiencing the brunt of the pandemic.
Another good intent in writing this article is to make a very brief but comprehensive guideline as to how and what the world (you, me, nations, groups, institutions, etc.) should or ought to do based on the recent findings and advice from experts, which I used as sources of this article.
This article (study) reviews resources available online on Coronavirus. What I did was outline various stakeholders who are participants and have critical roles in slowing down and stopping the pandemic. Indeed, I also included my views and thoughts based on my humble knowledge, insights, and background.
So, here, I tried answering the question: What should the (participants, stakeholder) do...? The major stakeholders here includes all human beings. However, the weight of the jot depends on the roles of the stakeholder. The stakeholders or participants include...
The main purpose of this article is to provide a brief guideline and expert advice from the leading nations and organizations fighting against the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19).
DEFINITIONS of TERMS
Wash your hands with soap and water for around 20 seconds. Do this practice, especially when you thought you touched surfaces or things that many people use. Practice this many times a day.
Distancing means keeping a 6-feet (or 2-meter) safe distance between persons. This could prevent the transmission of Coronavirus either from you or the other(s) person to you.
Wearing a facemask can do two things: first, psychological it would prevent you from touching your face, mouth, or nose; second, it protects you directly from someone (out of nowhere) who coughs or sneezes.
Cancel or postpone unnecessary travels, meetings, religious rituals, events, and other small and large gatherings.
Do what your government is implementing and take them seriously. In this way, you are doing your essential part and contributing to the elimination or reduction of Coronavirus' spread.
The World Health Organization (WHO) provides technical guidelines if you want the more detailed and more extended versions of protocols and guidelines. This article is a shorter version that I collected from the leading countries who established country-specific guidelines and active responses to the COVID-19.
Of course, I also added my thoughts and reflections based on my understanding of the present development and practices. I don't claim as an expert of Coronavirus, but my background in international relations and development, care for the sick at home and hospitals, transparency and integrity, morality and ethics, and psychology among others, prompted me to prepare this brief article (or guidelines) regarding stopping the virus.
Feeling incapable of doing anything to help the affected individuals and countries, I believe this article would serve as my humble contribution, besides my prayers and keeping the protocol sincerely on "social distancing" and working at home.
But to see the details clearly, you can see them below outlined as guidelines for various levels in the society. The solution to the problem is the answer to the question...
What Can and Should We Do?
INDIVIDUALS: You and me
What Can YOU do?
This guideline for each individual describes practical instructions to protect yourself from getting the virus as well as protect others from contracting the virus that you may have known or not known yet.
Prevention and protection: physical
PSYCHOLOGICAL & EMOTIONAL ADVICE
Keeping Your Distance
If you are exposed or have contracted the COVID-19, then you are obligated and responsible for taking serious steps...
How To Cope With Emotional & Psychological Effects
Due to the global spread of COVID-19, most people will be affected both psychologically and emotionally in various forms. Most of all, those who contracted the virus will experience various negative emotions, including fear and anxiety, depression, boredom, anger, frustration, among others.
The feeling of being stigmatized could be another fear. Find more detailed descriptions at this expert APA resource.
According to APA, there are various useful tips and methods in coping with situations like this one. They suggested that planning ahead on how to spend time while in quarantine or isolation is one great useful action.
The useful plan should include mental health and emotional support to the affected individual. Contacting ahead and getting support from family members or professionals (counselors, psychologists, etc.).
Here are the suggestions...
If you must travel, take the necessary precautions and seek medical attention if you feel you are sick.
During your travel, you should...
What Your Government Can Do?
Governments should provide travel advisory
Since COVID-19 is a pandemic, all governments should discourage, as much as possible, all travels. Using technology, people can easily organize meetings, conferences, and such events online. It is safer and cheaper.
Should install and make use of all available, accessible, and affordable facilities and technologies to monitor the spread of the virus. Such technologies include medical, information technology, transportation, and emergency vehicles.
Governments should establish critical responses to deal with the effects of COVID-19's outbreak
1. Economic and financial support
Governments should support, basically, financially its citizens who are affected the most (such as those who earn a living through daily work-street vendors, recycling workers, taxi drivers, private utility drivers, all self-employed, clubs, etc.).
Short-term Support for people without paid sick leave (see here sample details)
2. Flexibility for Taxpayers
Governments may defer the filing due date for last year's tax return of individuals, including some trusts. You can ask your government's relevant point of contact regarding this matter. For example, see Canada's approach to this issue here.
3. Financial Institutions
A government's finance minister and other relevant heads should contact national banks and request them to be more flexible to help customers whose personal or business finances are severely affected by COVID-19. Such financial support may include pay disruption, deferral for mortgages, among other possible and helpful actions.
4. Mortgage default management tools. See a sample here.
5. Supporting Businesses
Being affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, governments should lend help to businesses to cope with financial difficulty. A coordinated package of measures to cushion markets and resilience of the financial sector should be carefully planned by finance officials of the governments and financial institutions. This will undoubtedly provide significant support to all businesses of various sizes.
6. Governments should help businesses keep their works
Due to revenue losses, many business lay-off workers. A government may propose to provide a temporary wage subsidy for a few months to eligible small employers. Businesses will benefit from this by reducing their income tax remittances on their employee's remuneration. This support should help small corporations, non-profit organizations, and charity organizations.
7. Governments should defer the filing of business taxes.
8. Supporting National Financial market liquidity
In this program, a government will purchase insured mortgage pools through a housing corporation. According to the source, this action provides stable funding to banks and mortgage lenders, support lending to consumers and businesses, as well as liquidity to the mortgage market. Source: https://www.canada.ca
Collaboration with other governments
Countries should collaborate in creating a cure or vaccine for COVID-19. They can do this by sharing data, expertise, collaborative research, and experimentation.
Countries should share more transparent information so as not to make mistakes in responding to the data provided.
Travel Advisories by Governments to its Citizens & Non-citizens
Each government should continuously monitor travel activities among its citizens to assess the risks of spreading COVID-19. Governments should strongly advise its citizens to avoid all non-essential travels outside the country, including domestic travels, especially when the virus is on its peak of spreading or breakout.
Exemptions for Travelers
Certainly, there are always exemptions, but it does not mean one is above the law or emergency protocols implemented by the government authorities. Foreign citizens may not enter a country by land, air, or sea if they are not the contributors to preventing the spread or stopping COVID-19, curing the sick, maintaining peace and order, or any activity that would add up to slowly recovering the society and whole nation.
What Communities Can Do?
Schools and institutes for higher education
Community and faith-based organizations (CFBOs)
If there's no preparedness Plan
To make any community that has no preparedness plan, here are some useful guidelines...
1. Review, update or establish emergency operations plans (EOP)
2. Communities (CFBOs) should properly teach and strengthen healthy hygiene practices, including the intensification of cleaning and disinfection efforts.
3. Should monitor the staff and volunteers and implement proper and flexible actions including requiring staff to work at home, working hours flexibility, among others.
4. Identify events or gatherings and determine if they can be canceled or postponed. As much as possible, encourage people to stay home, and to keep the social distancing rule so as to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
5. Instead of meeting in person as a group, use the online or electronic methods to organize and achieve the purpose of the meeting.
6. Establish Methods to Support the Sick
In case the Community is confirmed to have a COVID-19 case
What Can Private Companies Do?
Businesses and employers should and can prevent the outbreak in the business setting by planning ahead, or implementing preventive and spread measures, including cleaning and disinfection, practicing social distancing, and updated strategies to respond to COVID-19.
Preparing Workplaces Against COVID-19 Outbreak
Companies and businesses should coordinate with local and state health authorities to provide exact information and receive proper guidance. Employers must reduce transmission among employees by asking or sending sick employees to go and stay home, identifying where and how the employee got the virus, separating sick employees who have symptoms, and educating them on how to reduce the spread by following the protocols on COVID-19. See CDC's advice here.
Businesses and employers should maintain healthy business operations...
The Business should plan and monitor and respond properly to absenteeism at the workplace. If the business is critical in providing products or services that can prevent or solve the COVID-19, it must continue to operate...
Again, businesses should properly establish policies and practices for social distancing.
Businesses and employees should also maintain a healthy work setting and environment...
The modern development in technologies, especially relating to medicine, are being tested and deployed at this grave medical challenge. Scientists, engineers, and artificial intelligence (AI) researchers can play a big role and helpful efforts in stopping the COVID-19 pandemic.
Such technological advances are being used when Coronavirus started to spread in Asia. Particularly, China, Singapore, and South Korea were reported to have deployed advance technologies to disinfect, deliver supplies, collect data, as well as track potential carriers of the said virus.
Disinfecting facilities and tracking potential Coronavirus hosts
For example, according to weforum.org on technology for Coronavirus, China is utilizing robots to help disinfect medical facilities and deliver medical supplies to the medical frontliners (e.g., doctors, nurses, medical researchers, emergency responders) at hospitals and clinics.
Drones and robots use artificial intelligence to disinfect areas that are extremely risky for humans to be dealt with. Such AIs can create detailed maps of affected areas and also scan various terrains in a flash.
In Singapore, the government used data from various sources to create a mapping of the outbreak. On the other hand, South Korean authorities are using smartphones to track potential carriers and to advise citizens with local phone numbers regarding the outbreak developments and precautions.
There is so much in the recent technologies that we have not employed as critical in providing us support in detecting and diagnosing the virus. For example, medical doctors can triage the hallmark symptoms of Coronavirus (fever, cough, and shortness of breath) via "telehealth or telemedicine center", according to time.com.
It simply means that medical doctors who are risking their lives in the frontline will have lesser risks than physically diagnosing the potential carrier. In this way, it is a more efficient, time and energy-saving strategy which is mutually advantageous to both parties. No time wasted means fewer lives are put into risk via such a method.
Therefore, instead of flooding hospitals with patients (some non-potential patients) and straining the scarce personnel and medical professionals.
Through telemedicine, the clinician will interact, diagnose and offer medical advice to patients and potential virus hosts remotely over video or audio feed.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Aside from individual-level medical care, the data collected through telemedicine services can be utilized to predict the movement of COVID-19 or other pandemic in the future in a certain area or population.
Through data collection, one can also anticipate the demand for health services, medical supplies, and medicines, thus making the medical institutions ready for any surge of a pandemic. The recent advancement in technology can open doors for a much faster and accurate data about any disease or pandemic, such as what the Google project did for flu and dengue fever trends a few years ago.
Just as AI can do deep learning models with great accuracy, it can detect and differentiate COVID-19 from community-acquired pneumonia and other lung diseases.
What can scientists do?
There are various materials that outlines strategies to deal with the pandemic Coronavirus Disease 2019 or COVID-19. For example, the RNSA published a document that has a set of policies and procedures directly applicable to imaging departments designed (a) to achieve sufficient capacity for continued operation during a health care emergency of unprecedented proportions, (b) to support the care of patients with COVID-19, and (c) to maintain radiologic diagnostic and interventional support for the entirety of the hospital and health system.
Countries that have complete radiology facilities may look at how they establish the policies and learn from them. See more here.
On Chest Radiography and CT for Potential COVID-19 Patients
An article on chest radiographs (CXR) and computed tomography (CT) for screening and diagnosing suspected patients with COVID-19 strongly emphasized a warming on the recent knowledge about this technology.
Such warning mentions that CXR or CT is currently not recommended to diagnose Coronavirus because chest radiography in COVID-19 findings are not specific and they have overlapping symptoms similar to influenza, H1N1, SARS, and MERS. For further details, please check:
Clinical Trials Sponsors
Businesses, companies, or medical research individuals and institutions should contact their governments to support their efforts in producing some cure, and hopefully, a vaccine to Coronavirus. Such companies and researchers I believe are now busy working fulltime in trying to make drugs, medical instruments, or other health products that might help treat or diagnose COVID-19.
Since the whole world is in dire need for medicines or vaccine for COVID-19, in unison with all concerned citizens of the world, we plead to make such medicine or vaccine to be very affordable (and hopefully for FREE to those who cannot afford) to those who need it.
Medical (research) companies must be obliged to circulate the vaccine with moral values and integrity more than profits.
The following are suggestions and advice coming from various institutions including banks, government agencies, and other thoughts and practices related to financial institutions' capacities and possible actions to help ease the effects of COVID-19.
A source has offered a suggested checklist of action that financial firms can possibly offer as their response to Coronavirus' pandemic.
Governance – Assemble a proportionate but robust cross-functional response team. For example, the Board /Executive Committee appoints a COVID-19 lead point of contact (and deputy) at Executive Management level. Then the COVID-19 lead point of contact and deputy identify key personnel to form COVID-19 response team (consider stakeholders from across the business – Head of Business Lines, HR, communications, IT, operations, customer services, legal, compliance).
Scenario and impact planning – Consider impacts on the crisis response plan. For example, the COVID-19 response team to determine and agree the organisation’s response in respect of the following: (a) Staff (b) Systems (c) Operations (d) Customers1 (e) Regulatory obligations.
Testing crisis response plan and its key components (internal elements). For example, the COVID-19 response team to perform testing of the plausible, but severe scenarios determined under action point on scenario and impact planning. Then the IT representatives (and relevant third parties) confirm remote access capabilities have: (a) Sufficient capacity under likely stress (b) Up-to-date and appropriate security protocols, among other specific actions.
Testing crisis response plan and its key components (including key vendors and outside parties). For this action, the IT representatives to ensure that staff are in possession of all relevant technology to be able to perform their role as required from a remote location (e.g. computers, keyboards, docking stations etc). Also, Where required, relevant business stakeholders develop back-up / alternative business processes to ensure continuation of critical business services.
Communications to stakeholders. For this action, the Internal communications representatives execute communication to key stakeholders. Ensure all staff are informed of the following: (a) When the crisis response plan will be enacted / whether it already has been. (b) What action staff need to take in order to prepare. (c) What action staff need to take when a crisis response plan is enacted. (d) How they will be communicated with and the frequency throughout the period of crisis response. (e) How their safety has been considered.
The above action points are not prescriptive nor exhaustive and should be tailored according to the needs of the entity. See more details about the actions mentioned above in here.
The United States had its various finance agencies put their head together and decided to issue an interagency statement. The result seems to be a great decision by the agencies encouraging financial institutions to support and help out struggling banks, businesses, borrowers and the economy of the country.
Although this interagency statement by the US financial institutions, the summary here would only serve as an example that could be tailored and applied in other nations and states.
The interagency statement has the following main items: working with customers, accounting for a loan modification, past due reporting, nonaccrual status and charge-offs, and discount window eligibility.
For example, the statement mentioned encouraging financial institutions to work with borrowers prudently as they possibly cannot or unable to meet their payment obligations due to the effects of Coronavirus. See more explanations for each item mentioned here.
As an example, the Bank of Canada issued a statement that presents its stand and approaches amidst the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. This brief paragraph informs the reader of what the Bank is offering and doing in this situation. For various good reasons, the Bank will act in various methods to help support the country's economy and financial system.
Mainly, the actions include relevant points: offering new monetary policy (such as lowered interest rates), supporting key financial markets (by offering programs to increase liquidity in core funding markets), liquidity support for financial institutions (such as enhancing its standard liquidity tools for ready access to funding), and other specific items.
Also, the Bank coordinates with international policy-makers including G7 central banks, and other economic and financial partners.
Layman (or laywoman's) term, please help and support ordinary people who don't have resources and trying to make ends meet as they are severely affected by COVID-19. Banks always get what they want. So, please get your profits later on and you won't get profits if you don't have borrowers--the people.
What Can International Organizations DO
WHO (UN World Health Organization) is the dedicated United Nations' organization that monitors and provides updates as well as official advice and guidance of various actions.
For example, you can find relevant items on COVID-19 such as quick links, scam alert, advice for the public, advice for health workers, country and technical guidance, situation updates, research and development and various Q&As. See the official website of WHO here.
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)
The Secretary General of OECD, Angel Gurria, urged the G20 leaders to act promptly to counteract the effects of COVID-19. Very briefly, here is the quote:
International Maritime Organization (IMO)
A couple of sea-cruise ships were affected by the COVID-19, and as of this writing, the passengers are still in them and many of them contracted the virus and are receiving treatments.
Following the advice of the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Maritime Organization's member states, seafarers, and shipping will heed WHO's measures that will limit the risk of exportation or importation of any disease including COVID-19.
The technical guidance of WHO includes the detection and management of sick travelers suspected of contracting Coronavirus. Please, see IMO's website to find out more on help guidance in case of outbreaks onboard ships and WHO's technical guidance for managing COVID-19 cases and other issues.
Amnesty International (AI)
According to AI, during this unprecedented outbreak of COVID-19, many countries are implementing various strategies to control the spread and even death due to the pandemic. However, the international organization also insisted that basic needs and rights of citizens must be upheld and respected.
AI insisted that "[i]nternational human rights laws and standards also require that access to health care, including any vaccines and cures developed for COVID-19 in the future, should be available in sufficient quantity and be accessible and affordable to everyone, without discrimination."
Amnesty International offered relevant and critical points to remember and implement by governments whose countries and territories are being affected by COVID-19. Here are the verbatim points...
Transparency International (TI)
Governments, institutions, companies, and various entities will be doing business in trying to deal with the unprecedented occurrence of the pandemic COVID-19. As TI's mission, the international anti-corruption organization, based in Berlin, featured an article appealing to all stakeholders to keep transparency and integrity as critical values that can help support the fight against eh pandemic and prevent the loss of many lives.
Citing a particular country, Brazil as an example, the anti-corruption organization highlights important recommendations and preventive strategies on corruption risks.
You can find and learn more about the article here.
Sincere thanks and gratitude to all medical professionals who are doing their jobs, tasks, profession, vocation or whatever you may call it. You are heroes and will be legends to the future generation who saved this generation from COVID-19.
I hope this is useful in some ways or another. If you have suggestions or recommendations to make this article more relevant, please let me know either to email or by kindly commenting below.
Thanks for reading and keep safe! We can overcome COVID-19 by acting TOGETHER!