Senegal's quiet COVID success: Test results in 24 hours, temperature checks at every store, no fights over masks

Written by on September 6, 2020


President Trump argued in an interview that the US has higher coronavirus loss of life numbers than different international locations if counted as a proportion of instances, not the overall inhabitants. The interview was performed by Axios, Courtesy HBO. (Aug. 4) AP Home

COVID-19 check outcomes come again inside 24 hours – and even quicker. Motels have been reworked into quarantine items. Scientists are racing to develop a cutting-edge, low-cost ventilator.

This is not the pandemic response in South Korea, New Zealand or one other nation held up as a mannequin of coronavirus containment success.  

It is Senegal, a west African nation with a fragile health care system, a shortage of hospital beds and about seven doctors for each 100,000 individuals. And but Senegal, with a inhabitants of 16 million, has tackled COVID-19 aggressively and, to date, successfully. Greater than six months into the pandemic, the nation has about 14,000 cases and 284 deaths.  

“You see Senegal transferring out on all fronts: following science, performing rapidly, working the communication aspect of the equation, after which serious about innovation,” stated Judd Devermont, director of the Africa program on the Heart for Strategic and Worldwide Research, a nonpartisan international coverage assume tank. 

Senegal deserves “to be within the pantheon of nations which have … responded nicely to this disaster, even given its low useful resource base,” Devermont stated. 

Senegal snagged the No. 2 slot in a current evaluation taking a look at how 36 international locations have dealt with the pandemic. America landed close to the underside: 31st of the 36 international locations examined by Foreign Policy magazine, which included a mixture of rich, center revenue and creating nations. 

Senegal acquired robust marks for “a excessive diploma of preparedness and a reliance on info and science,” whereas the U.S. was dinged for poor public well being messaging, restricted testing and different shortcomings.

Devermont and others say Senegal’s quiet success is because of a mixture of fast motion, clear communication and its expertise through the 2014 Ebola outbreak

Throughout that well being disaster, Senegal confirmed its first case on Aug. 29; officers instantly recognized 74 different individuals the affected person had been involved with and commenced monitoring and testing them. 

“Testing was immediate and dependable; all outcomes had been adverse,” the World Health Organization said in declaring the outbreak over just some months later. “With outbreaks raging simply throughout its borders, Senegal was well-prepared, with an in depth response plan in place as early as March.”

When the novel coronavirus emerged, Dr. Abdoulaye Bousso, director of Senegal’s Well being Emergency Operation Heart, stated the federal government started drawing up a contingency plan as quickly because the World Well being Group declared a global public well being emergency on Jan. 30.

When the nation had its first constructive case two months later, President Macky Sall instantly imposed a curfew and restricted journey between Senegal’s 14 areas. The nation ramped up testing capability rapidly, creating cell labs that may return outcomes inside 24 hours – or as rapidly as two hours in some instances, Bousso stated.

Sall’s authorities additionally made a dramatic promise: Each one who examined constructive would have a remedy mattress, whether or not they had signs or not. That saved sufferers away from house, the place they may transmit the virus to relations.

“We noticed in the beginning that in the event you try this, we will very quickly cease the transmission,” Bousso stated.

One other small however vital step: On daily basis, an official from the well being ministry delivers a grim replace, disclosing the variety of new infections, how many individuals have been cured and what number of have died.

“If we have now six individuals who died, we are saying it. If we have now one individual, we are saying it,” Bousso stated. The intention is to be absolutely clear, to maintain individuals mobilized and to counter any suggestion that the virus is just not a severe menace, he defined. 

Shannon Underwood, an immigration lawyer from Seattle who moved to Senegal along with her household two years in the past, stated the federal government’s response has been spectacular, if not good. Underwood stated it has been “weird” to observe the U.S. response from afar, including that she would a lot moderately be dwelling in Dakar. 

“There hasn’t been a second the place my household was considering, ‘Oh, we should always have evacuated. We all the time felt being right here was the higher selection,” Underwood stated. 

Her Senegalese pals are flabbergasted that Individuals are arguing over whether or not to put on masks and that some are questioning the severity of the virus.  

“Folks right here ask us, ‘This is not true, proper?'” Underwood stated. “The best way the society and the tradition is right here … it is unimaginable that an individual would reject sporting a masks to guard the individuals round them.” 

She and others have gotten used to the brand new norm in Senegal, which incorporates getting temperature checks and a squirt of hand sanitizer each time they enterprise out for meals or different requirements. 

At each grocery retailer, restaurant, and different facility, “there is a safety guard standing on the door with a thermal brow thermometer and a bottle of sanitizer,” she stated. Everybody complies and not using a fuss, she stated, working “collectively as a neighborhood … to maintain one another wholesome.”

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Devermont stated Senegal’s success in tackling Ebola gave them a blueprint to reply to COVID “proper out of the gate.”  And he famous that Sall enjoys excessive confidence throughout Senegal, making certain that folks take his warnings and the federal government restrictions critically. 

He famous that Sall has additionally led by instance, deciding to self-isolate after being exposed to the virus, though he examined adverse. 

“Senegal is just not out of the woods,” Devermont stated, noting there could also be gaps in testing and different uncertainties about how the virus will progress there. However to date, the nation has proven that it would not take a world-class well being system and gobs of cash to maintain the virus in test.  

“Your degree of preparedness is extremely vital, and the useful resource base that you’ve got is vital,” Devermont stated. “However management trumps all of that. … And I believe Macky Sall and his authorities have proven extraordinary management.” 

Bousso agreed Senegal can’t say but that it has the virus underneath management.  

“However we’re optimistic that if we proceed on our means, we will cease this outbreak within the nation,” he added. 

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