From preparedness to recovery: Learning lessons of COVID-19 outbreak from China

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Charles Nsanzabera
Leonard Ndayisenga
Jean Damascene Kabakambira
Felix Hagenimana


At the end of December 2019, the Chinese public health authorities reported several cases of acute respiratory syndrome in Wuhan City, Hubei province, China. Chinese scientists soon identified a novel coronavirus as the main causative agent. The disease is now referred to as coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), and the causative virus is called severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavi-rus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The COVID-19 outbreak was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization on March 12th, 2020.

COVID-19 propagates quickly and threatens the population at large; around 20% of affected populations have presented severe forms of the diseases. In China approximately ~5% cases became critical patients in need of admission to intensive-care units. The need for intensive care has led to unprecedented overcrowding in hospitals, with catastrophic situations witnessed in Italy and other countries. The highest mortality rates have been witnessed amongst the elderly with several comorbidities. In this viewpoint we draw lessons from the implementation of population containment measures, vulnerable people protection and relevant public health pillars in China. We then discuss how these lessons can or cannot be applied to other settings.

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