Knowing how to control the spread of coronavirus is not rocket science. But actually doing it has proved elusive and difficult for many governments across the world. When China first alerted the World Health Organization about a novel coronavirus on 31 December, the countdown began for countries to each prepare. Some, such as South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong, were scarred by their recent experiences with two other deadly coronaviruses, Mers and Sars, and so reacted quickly to the coming threat. Others, such as the UK and US, consumed with domestic political issues, watched and waited, anticipating that this new virus would be more similar to a bad flu strain.
We are now almost four months into this pandemic, and the lessons that can be drawn from east Asian countries on how best to control this coronavirus and keep daily new cases as low as possible are clear. Eight aspects in particular stand out as important for governments to recognise as they navigate difficult choices ahead. They also provide a guide for what the public should be expecting of and demanding from their governments.