Facts and Analysis: Canvassing COVID-19 Responses

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It is impossible to reflect on 2020 without discussing Covid-19. The term, literally meaning corona- (CO) virus (VI) disease (D) of 2019, has become synonymous with “the virus”, “corona” and “the pandemic”. The impact of the virus on our lives is unprecedented in modern human history, in terms of scale, depth and resilience. When compared to other epidemics that have plagued the world in recent decades, Covid-19 is often referred to as being much more “deadly” and is associated with advances in technology which scientists have described as “revolutionary”. From politics to economics, spanning families and continents, Covid-19 has unsettled norms: cultural clashes are intensified, politics are even more polarized, and regional tensions and conflicts are on the rise. Global trade patterns and supply chains are increasingly being questioned and redrawn. The world is being atomized, and individuals are forced to accept the “new normal” in their routines.

In an attempt to combat the virus and minimize its detrimental effects, countries have undertaken different preventive strategies and containment policies. Some have successfully curbed the spread of Covid-19, while many others remain in limbo, doing their best to respond to outbreaks in cases. To gain a better understanding of how to fight Covid-19, it is imperative to evaluate the success and failures of these approaches. Under what conditions is an approach successful? When should it be avoided? How can this information be used to avoid future pandemics?

This volume offers informative comparative case studies that shed light on these key questions. Each country case is perceptively analyzed and includes a detailed timeline, allowing readers to view each response with hindsight and extrapolate the data to better understand what the future holds. Taken as a whole, this collection offers invaluable insight at this critical juncture in the Covid-19 pandemic.  


“In the ‘post-truth’ era, such careful documentation of the facts is especially welcome.”
Dr Tania Burchardt
Associate Professor, Department of Social Policy
London School of Economics and Political Science

“The end is not yet in sight for the pandemic but in these pages the key factors in its development and some possible solutions for the future are laid out in ways that make it indispensable reading.”
Prof David S. G. Goodman
Professor of China Studies and former Vice President, Academic
Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, Suzhou

“This book is an important and groundbreaking effort by social scientists to understand on how states have been managing the crisis.”
Kevin Hewison
Weldon E. Thornton Distinguished Emeritus Professor
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

“This is exactly the kind of research that will contribute to our fight against Covid-19.”
Tak-Wing Ngo
University of Macau

“A well-researched book on Covid-19 highlighting the value of the meticulous fact-based groundwork by an international team.”
Carlson Tong, GBS, JP
Former Chairman, Securities and Futures Commission, Hong Kong
Chairman, University Grants Committee, Hong Kong
Pub. Date
Mar 1, 2021
332 pages
210 x 297 mm
This project is a product of Covid-19 lockdown. Tucked away in our respective neighborhoods, in different regions of the world, we shared our labor in making sense of the displacements caused by the new virus.

By now there is no doubt that the virus that is known as SARS-COV-2, and the global disease it caused, Covid-19 (literally meaning the Disease (D) of Corona- (CO) virus (VI) of 2019), has been a disruptor of our lives. Its impact has been unprecedented in modern human history, in terms of scale, depth or resilience, whether compared to other epidemics plaguing the world in recent decades, often much more “deadly”, or to the advance of technologies which scientists have described as “revolutionary”. From politics to economics, spanning families or across religions, Covid-19 has unsettled the accustomed norms. The global village is being atomized with “new normal” in routines. Cultures clash; politics is ever more polarized; regional tensions are on the rise. Global trade patterns and supply chains are increasingly being questioned and redrawn.

Old fault lines have resurfaced and deepened. Whilst the virus knows no boundaries, social equities remain a thorny issue. As the world focuses its effort in breaking new scientific grounds to find a cure, distribution may turn out to be our biggest challenge.

This struggle will continue for quite a while, we suspect. Not because a successful vaccine is still in its making – though it is certainly. But because the old problems won't go away with a vaccine, good and curing as it is. Human societies will need to mull over our clashes over beliefs, habits and ideas of knowledge – those of yours and mine and theirs – and hopefully out of some bubbles of reflections and struggles we emerge wiser and more resilient of the hard fact of co-existence. Amongst people of different colours, genders, religions and politics, and between humans and other lives, and non-lives, on earth.
Perhaps we should learn how to live with less hassles. We need to learn how to communicate better. As things become increasingly complex, perhaps it is time to go simple.

We seek simply, here, to lay out what we notice as the major events on Covid-19. Period. Some assessments are inevitable in the reports, and even in the selection of the “facts”. There is nothing called “value free”; we are humans with minds. We have sought, nonetheless, grounded analysis and accounts to guide our making sense of the complexities. This is how, we hope, this work will be used and judged.

Conceived during my lockdown in London in March 2020, this project quickly took shape with the formation of a collaborative team with colleagues and friends from different regions of the world. We are often humbled by the weight of the developments, as we reflected upon the fruits of our labor. Sharing and communications have re-energized us and kept us on track, however, and here the product is.

We have leveraged on the excellent work of a huge number of people, including the many sources we cited. Peers and students with the Research Centre for Sustainable Hong Kong and Department of Public Policy have provided essential assistance and suggestions. Professor Martin Painter, professor emeritus at City University of Hong Kong and long-time friend and colleague, read the drafts of a few reports, at the busy time of welcoming a new member to his family. The editors at City University of Hong Kong Press embraced the project idea and delivered efficiently the final product. Our sincere thanks to their efforts. The faults (and certainly there are) that remain are ours.

Linda Chelan Li
January 2021, Hong Kong


The Development of the Global Pandemic

       Linda Chelan Li, assisted by Xin Yan and Fanny Unterreiner

The Hard Questions the World Health Organization Must Answer in
       Its Coronavirus Inquiry

       Lai-ha Chan and Pak K. Lee


       Linda Chelan Li, assisted by Xin Yan and Fanny Unterreiner


COVID-19 in Cambodia: Managing a Crisis with Limited Resources

       Oum Socheat


       Oum Socheat


COVID-19 in Mainland China: Anti-Epidemic Social Mobilization under
       Comprehensive Management

       Lanlan Xu and Yuqing Liang


        Dingyi You and Guilan Zhu


COVID-19 in Germany: Learning to Dance with the Virus

        Christoph Steinhardt


        Christoph Steinhardt


COVID-19 in Hong Kong: Pulling Together amidst Divisions

       Linda Chelan Li, assisted by Cleo Wong, Jeffrey Chung and Xin Yan

Fighting COVID-19 in Hong Kong: The Effects of Community and Social Mobilization

       Kin-Man Wan, Lawrence Ka-ki Ho, Natalie W. M. Wong and Andy Chiu


       Linda Chelan Li, Cleo Wong, Xin Yan and Jeffrey Chung


COVID-19 in Macao: A Brief Review of the Macao Government’s 
       Anti-epidemic Measures

       Li Lue


       Li Lue


COVID-19 in New Zealand: Scientific Advice and Political Realities

       Robert Gregory


       Robert Gregory


COVID-19 in Taiwan: Some Crucial Experiences for Fighting the Pandemic

       Bennis Wai Yip So


       Bennis Wai Yip So


COVID-19 in the United Kingdom: Capability Development and Limitations

       Yifei Yan


       Yifei Yan and Cleo Wong



       Yamin Xu


Linda Chelan Li is Professor of Political Science in the Department of Public Policy and the Director of the Research Centre for Sustainable Hong Kong (CSHK), City University of Hong Kong. Her research interests include good governance, central-local relations, government reform, public finance and sustainable development. She initiated “CSHK on Covid-19”, a collaborative project to collate and analyze essential data on the case developments and policy response of different jurisdictions to Covid-19, with an international team spanning Europe, Asia, America and Australasia.

Contributors (Arranged in alphabetical order by surname)

Lai-ha CHAN


Jeffrey Shek Yan CHUNG


Lawrence Ka-ki HO

Pak K. LEE

Lue LI

Yuqing LIANG

Socheat OUM

Bennis Wai Yip SO



Kin-Man WAN

Cleo Lok Hei WONG

Natalie W. M. WONG

Lanlan XU

Yamin XU

Layla Xin YAN

Bria Yifei YAN

Dingyi YOU

Guilan ZHU