Firsthand Observation in Various Countries

Please know that initiatives often change in countries over time or are often different in different areas of the same country; the above comments are based on our firsthand observations and experiences during our travels.

We have however noticed this consistent trend and pattern since January 2020.  

We observed no indiscriminate mandatory mask wearing, stay at home, lockdown, curfew or quarantine (self-isolation) initiatives for the general public during our travels in Asia.  

We observed no instruction to the general public to avoid or close any beaches, public spaces or businesses such as shops or restaurants; some individuals decided to close businesses and some decided to continue working with advised safety guidelines.  

It is our understanding that SARS-CoV2 tests are prescribed only for individuals with symptoms, which is based on clinical evidence and possible benefits outweigh risks in these contexts (clear clinical indications for testing especially if symptoms are severe or there are high risk individuals at home).  

Mask wearing, stay at home and quarantine were recommended only for individuals with symptoms, as is supported by clinical evidence, and the public mostly adhered to these evidence-based guidelines, as one individual commented “if it makes sense, most people comply”.

Evidence-based information was shared with the general public, as part of an initiative to educate the public regarding risk, and the public was asked to make responsible decisions in their work and personal life.  

The public, including business owners, appeared to understand, based on our direct observation, that transmission of respiratory infections such as SARS-CoV2 usually occurs through behaviours relating to hands (touching objects), mouths (coughing) and noses (sneezing); the importance of enabling social distancing, that communal items such as salt and pepper shakers should be avoided or cleaned between every usage, that unnecessarily touching items in public should be avoided, that food and drinks should not be shared amongst friends (eating from the same fork or drinking from the same glass), that hands should be washed before touching food or the face and that individuals with symptoms or an elevated temperature should stay at home until they have recovered.  

These initiatives and decisions are evidence-based (based on good clinical evidence).  

It was also evident, based on news reports to the public and observing the public’s response, that protective factors were emphasised and understood; calm, positive mental states and environments were prioritised and maintained, normalcy was advised and the general public along with governmental and health officials appeared to focus on immediate, short term as well as long term risk from a bio-psycho-social point of view. 

Public messages were positive, focussed on protecting the public and inspired hope, calm and camaraderie.

Simple measures often have the most significant positive effect on outcome.