Mongolia shares the world’s longest land border with China, but its early and highly centralized pandemic response has been so effective that not a single person in the landlocked country has died from covid-19. A former army colonel turned public health official recounts how Mongolia enacted its extensive quarantine and testing regime under a state of emergency.

We first heard about a new virus spreading in China around New Year’s Eve. On January 10, we issued our first public advisory, telling everyone in Mongolia to wear a mask. 

Here’s the thing: we don’t actually have a great public health system. That’s why our administrators were so afraid of covid-19. We don’t have many respirators, for example. We were really afraid that if we got community transmission even once, it would become a disaster for us. What was in everyone’s head was to be prepared before the spread. Another reason we were so keen to protect the community is because we have the world’s longest land border with China—2,880 miles [4,600 kilometers]—as well as continuous human flow for education and business from China to Mongolia.

0 Covid deaths

As of August 17, 2020. Source: WHO Dashboard

Davaadorj RendooTS.NOMIN ERDENE, RESEARCHER, DEPARTMENT OF EPIDEMIOLOGY AND EMERGENCY OPERATIONS, NCPH

Mongolia is a big country with a sparse population, about 3.2 million people. Because our country has a very harsh, dry, and cold climate, every year from November to February we have an awful flu season, and the Ministry of Health always encourages people to practice good hygiene and wash hands, especially young children. So many of our suggestions were not new. 

We have been doing tests since January. We even started randomly screening pneumonia patients for covid-19 but never found a patient. We got the majority of our test kits from the World Health Organization (WHO), including rapid tests, and were able to scale it up pretty quickly.  

In February, we started flying Mongolians living abroad back home and testing them. 

We did not detect a single domestic case until March 9. One French national working in the southern province of Dornogovi was discovered to have had coronavirus. Since that day, the Ministry of Health has been conducting daily situation briefings to talk about how many cases were imported, what the high-risk areas are. After that case was announced, people became even

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By: Tate Ryan-Mosley
Title: How Mongolia has kept the coronavirus at bay
Sourced From: www.technologyreview.com/2020/08/18/1007135/mongolia-coronavirus/
Published Date: Tue, 18 Aug 2020 10:00:00 +0000

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