To confront this pandemic effectively, governments need to act boldly to implement measures based on demonstrably effective practices. During these unprecedented times, governments around the world have had to make tough and sometimes unpopular decisions for the benefit of a more stable future. Whilst development of a vaccine is ongoing, the most prudent approach in the meantime is to minimise transmission through coordinated and holistic strategies and a clear, sustained and rigorous approach to implementation. An advanced healthcare infrastructure alone is insufficient.
The key findings from this report demonstrate how the five key interventions work individually, and in relation to each other, to aid governments in achieving public health recovery. Whether we look at New Zealand or Australia, Malaysia or South Korea, strong leadership and public compliance emerge as critical enabling factors for COVID-19 containment. When leaders provide the right advice and the public complies, recovery is measured and orderly. Even in Sweden, where the public complied with relatively relaxed government orders, the risks were calculated and therefore manageable. Leading countries have implemented the five key interventions discussed in this report and upheld the conditions for recovery to some degree. However, it must be acknowledged that each country experienced different levels of severity. That may be a result of variation in the effectiveness of implementation or perhaps other factors which have not yet been documented.
As countries begin to ease lockdown measures and restricted movement orders, the next focus of governments will inevitably be the revitalisation of the economy. Whilst various stimulus packages were introduced to protect the economy and welfare of citizens in the recovery phase, the next phase will require further radical thinking to revive and reinvigorate businesses and overall economic activity.
Over the past few months, the pandemic has significantly impacted large and small businesses, causing significant layoffs, and reducing productivity and economic output. International border closures, lockdowns and the deferral of daily business activities to curb the spread of COVID-19 have forced many organisations to close and file for bankruptcy. With reduced household income and escalating debts, both the economy and the welfare of citizens are likely to be fragile for some time to come. Without expert advice to guide economic recovery interventions, countries that were on a growth trajectory prior to COVID-19 could lag behind in the short to medium term, losing a competitive advantage with regional and global peers.
Across the global economy there may also be significant opportunities to rebuild better – and differently. Sustainable energy generation, reduced need for travel by car or mass transit in cities, greatly improved use of digital communication, transformed models of teaching and learning in higher education, and many other aspects of the economy have the potential to be both different and better as we recover from the pandemic.
As the world gradually progresses through the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be a need to examine the effective practices adopted by leading countries on economic recovery. There will also be lessons to learn from strategies that were designed to address the prevailing economic challenges but did not produce desirable results. As countries grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic amidst other domestic and global challenges such as political instability, fluctuating oil prices and climate change, sound and holistic economic strategies will be essential to ensure national and global economic resilience and growth, and provide a prosperous, sustainable future for us all.