Analysis by Tara John, CNN


Europe is now reporting more daily infections than the United States, Brazil, or India -- the countries that have been driving the global case count for months -- as public apathy grows towards coronavirus guidelines. Several countries are seeing infection rates spiral again after a summer lull that saw measures to contain the virus and travel restrictions relaxed.


It is just the latest problem to beset Britain's slapdash pandemic response. There are now more patients in hospital with Covid-19 in England than there were in March, when a nationwide lockdown was imposed, according to Johnson and health officials.


France and the Netherlands broke their own records over the weekend, reporting the highest numbers of confirmed Covid-19 cases since the start of the pandemic.


Seven months after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a global pandemic, life is closer to normal in the Asia-Pacific region thanks to the basic lessons of epidemiology: clear communication, quarantines, border controls, aggressive testing and contact tracing, Kenji Shibuya, the Director of the Institute for Population Health at King's College London, told CNN.


Singer Eric Chou takes a selfie with masked members of the audience while performing in a concert in Taipei, Taiwan, on August 9, 2020.


European countries with successful pandemic responses, like Germany, have taken this approach.


But experts say Spain, the US and the UK are seeing cases skyrocket, and cracks appear in the political and public consensus, after they opted to prematurely re-open their economies without heeding those rules.


Thousands of revelers gathered at an open air water park in the Chinese city of Wuhan, ground zero of the pandemic, for an electronic music festival in August.


This is a maddening idea to the vast majority of health professionals and scientists, who point to Covid-19's high fatality rate and its long-term effects on survivors.


"When countries [like the US and UK] experience declining life expectancy, it really should be a red flag," said Martin McKee, professor of European public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Deteriorating health in populations has electoral consequences, McKee told CNN -- adding that historically, those factors caused "populism and then you get state failure."


Classic epidemiology


Resurgences of Covid-19 in the Asia-Pacific region look a lot different to what is happening in the West. New Zealand pretty much eradicated community transmission within its borders after a minor outbreak in August, during which the virus' spread never rose beyond 19 new infections a day.


Border controls have been effective, says Shibuya. Singapore, Hong Kong and New Zealand have largely kept their borders closed to visitors, with returning citizens and work permit holders being quarantined at home or at designated facilities.


The same is true in Vietnam, which remains closed to most international travelers and, like many countries in the region, has encouraged citizens to holiday within its borders. The lower-middle income country has taken a proactive approach to the outbreak, bringing infections down to the single digits in October, little more than two months after authorities evacuated 80,000 local tourists from the resort city of Da Nang after three residents tested positive for the virus.


By contrast, the European unx resumed inter-regional tourism in June, even though many European countries were slow to require visitors to undergo routine testing on arrival.


The United Nations' tourism agency, the UNWTO, found that "Europe is the region in which more destinations (81%) have eased travel restrictions" while only 28% of destinations in the Asia-Pacific region had eased border controls by September 1, according to its analysis of travel restrictions.


Taiwan and South Korea, which had the world's second highest number of cases in February, kept a handle on outbreaks without blunt instruments like lockdowns thanks to their gold standard test and tracing systems, and a transparent communication strategy that has kept the public on side.


The UK deploys conventional contact-tracing methods, which identify cases and track down the people they met after they became infectious, says McKee. Meanwhile, Asian countries like South Korea have relied on what is known as backwards tracing, which attempts to identify the event, place or source of an infection.


Even the economic situation looks less stark. The IMF forecasts that the economy in the Asia-Pacific region will contract by 0.2% this year, while those in US and Western Europe are expected to sink by 5.9% and 7.3% respectively.


Cultural tropes


Asia-Pacific's response has been shaped by the 2003 SARS outbreak. Trauma from that period meant many Asian countries were better prepared and better resourced to act decisively at start of the pandemic with public approval.


Countries like Norway and the Netherlands recommend masks in indoor public spaces, but do not mandate it. Swedish authorities have actively discouraged the use of masks, despite the high number of Covid-19 deaths in care homes.


Though he has since changed tack, in March Johnson said he shook hands "with everybody" during a visit to a hospital treating confirmed Covid-19 patients, on the same day the government's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies advocated against the practice. Trump has turned masks into a hyper-partisan issue, routinely mocking Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden for wearing a face covering.


US President Donald Trump removes his mask on his return to the White House from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where he was treated for coronavirus.


Winning trust


That trust can easily be lost. A study in The Lancet found that when Johnson's chief adviser, Dominic Cummings, broke lockdown rules but faced no consequences, it undermined the public's faith in the government's ability to handle the pandemic. The opposite happened in New Zealand, where David Clark, its Health Minister, was demoted in April 2020 after twice breaking the country's Covid-19 regulations. He resigned in July and goodwill for the government has remained.


Taiwan's government deployed a cartoon spokesdog to help communicate its social distancing policy.
New Zealand and South Korea adopted a "division-of-labour approach to communicating political and scientific information," the report noted. Public health officials would first deliver the science. The message would be humanized and reinforced with meaning by politicians like New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern or South Korea's President Moon Jae-on in televised addresses or Facebook lives, Tworek said.

台湾政府部署了一个卡通发言人来帮助传达其社会隔离政策。 报告指出,新西兰和韩国的公共卫生官员首先提供科学依据,然后采用了“用劳动分工的方式来传播政治和科学信息”的方法。托雷克说,新西兰总理杰辛达·阿德恩或韩国总统文在寅在电视讲话或脸书直播中发表的讲话,将使这一信息变得人性化,并赋予其意义。

Misinformation and conspiracies were tackled in South Korea and Taiwan via high quality information being pushed out on multiple channels, Tworek added. To engage the public, the Taiwanese government worked with local comedians to create memes for their "humor over rumor" strategy. It included the use of a cartoon "spokesdog," a Shiba Inu called Zongchai, to help communicate its policies. One meme showed that the 1.5 meter indoor social distancing policy equated to the length of three Shiba Inu, while the outdoor social distancing policy was two Shiba Inu.


Masks were distributed to Taiwanese households at the start of the pandemic -- many of them in a shade of pink. After hearing that male students were being bullied for wearing pink masks at schools, officials wore pink face coverings at their daily briefing. "It is fantastic because it's not just about countering disinformation, it is about countering stigma and prejudice," Tworek said. "This is not rocket science. These are basic tenets of health and risk communications [in order to] establish trust."

在疫情爆发之初,人们向台湾家庭发放了口罩,许多家庭的口罩都是粉红色的。在听说有男学生在学校戴粉色口罩被欺负后,官员们在每日简报中戴上了粉色的口罩。特沃雷克说:“这很棒,因为这不仅仅是为了打击虚假信息,也是打击了耻辱和偏见。” “这不是什么难做的事。为了建立信任,这些是健康和风险沟通的基本原则。”

Have an upcoming election in the pandemic? Asian democracies also have a solution to that. South Korea saw its highest turnout in April's poll as voters wore masks and gloves, polling booths were disinfected, and people spaced out as they queued to vote. In the US, officials are turning large venues and sports centers into polling stations in order to accommodate social distancing concerns in November's poll.

选举遇上疫情? 亚洲民主国家也有解决办法。 韩国在4月份的投票中出现了最高的投票率,选民们戴着口罩和手套,投票站进行了消毒,人们在排队投票时保持安全距离。在美国,为了减轻11月大选中人们对社交距离的担忧,官员们正把大型场馆和体育中心改造成投票站。

A South Korean woman wears plastic gloves and a mask as she prepares to cast her ballot during April's election.


New Zealand and Hong Kong postponed elections over the summer, citing coronavirus fears. While the main New Zealand opposition party backed the move, some pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong claimed the government was using the pandemic as an excuse to avoid potential losses in a crucial election.

新西兰和香港由于担心冠状病毒而推迟了今年夏天的选举。 虽然新西兰主要反对党支持这一举措,但香港的一些支持民主的活动家声称,政府正在以疫情作为借口,避免在关键的选举中可能的失败。

As Trump continues to downplay the threat of the virus, another 20,000 Covid-19 deaths are "inevitable" by the end of the month, former director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Tom Frieden, told CNN this weekend.


Unlike the Asia-Pacific region, the West appears to be well on its way to a tragic winter.