We’ve mapped the performance of 30 leading countries by plotting their health and economic outcomes and grouping them based on whether they have instituted light, moderate or severe restrictions on commerce and social interactions.
The coronavirus pandemic has spread across countries at different times, and each has responded differently depending on their health and political systems, as well as their economies. Despite some bright spots, nearly every country presents a mixed picture.
This matrix considers countries’ bottom lines when it comes to infections, deaths, GDP and unemployment, as well as how those metrics were shaped by specific government interventions. Germany, for example, has diverse but relatively bad outcomes overall. Its economy is sinking at the same rate as its neighbors, but its death rate is significantly lower than theirs, thanks to widely lauded testing and health care.That said, Berlin’s official count of Covid-19 deaths in nursing homes is both slow and patchy.
Some countries test widely (Iceland) and count all possible Covid-19 deaths (Belgium), skewing their numbers compared to less transparent countries (Russia). New Zealand and Sweden took opposite approaches to restricting their populations’ movement and have very different health outcomes, but nearly identical recessions. Several countries have similar GDP numbers but starkly different unemployment rates (the U.S., the U.K. and Japan), a function of whether the government guarantees workers’ salaries. India avoided overwhelming its fragile health system via the world’s biggest lockdown, but that, in turn, tanked its economy, which might contract 45 percent this quarter.
Taiwan, meanwhile, did nearly everything right in terms of its response to the health crisis, but can’t escape the fact that 70 percent of its GDP comes from hard-hit export sectors.
Countries in this category are maintaining lockdowns that restrict all but essential movement outside the home and may require permits and face coverings for approved activities. Most commercial premises are closed (except for food services and pharmacies), as are bars, restaurants, schools and offices. All sports, religious, and other public gatherings are banned. Only workers deemed essential may work outside the home, and travel in and out of the country is restricted.
In these countries, residents are allowed to leave their homes as long as they follow social distancing guidelines and remain at least six feet away from others. Small, socially distanced gatherings are also permitted. Some commercial outlets may open, but under restricted circumstances. Schools are typically closed or operating on a shift system and workers are encouraged to work from home if they can. Face coverings are encouraged but not mandatory.
These countries have allowed most businesses, offices and schools to stay open, sometimes at reduced capacity. Large events have been restricted. Extra cleaning and record-keeping requirements may be in place for those operating businesses and other venues that attract crowds.
The most populous country without a death, with approximately 300 cases recorded among a population of 95 million. Vietnam’s economy is predicted to grow by 2.7 percent in 2020, making it the overall best Covid-19 performer globally.
By RYAN HEATH and BEATRICE JIN