Political leadership is under increasing pressure to control the spread of the deadly virus and limit the panic amongst people.
The Coronavirus pandemic is the unanticipated and unprecedented emergency situation the world is witnessing, as the virus has spread across international borders, resulting in millions of deaths. These are challenging times, never experienced prior to 2020; as economies crumble into recession and employment numbers hit all-time lows, people are insecure and terrified. The political leadership is the most vulnerable as the pressure is tremendously escalating to control the spread of the deadly virus and limit the panic amongst people. The task is daunting, and the leaders are expected to show cooperation and pragmatism in these tough times to control the instability caused by weakening or failing economies, lack of medical infrastructure and administrative fiascos and job losses.
Leaders are expected to show pragmatism in tough times to control the instability caused by weakening economies, administrative fiascos and job losses.
Here are the Heads of State who had the best and worst Coronavirus responses.
The Best Responses
There are few Heads of State who have been able to demonstrate keen compassion and firm resolve to arrest the panic caused by the pandemic.
1) Taiwan | Tsai Ing-wen
Tsai Ing-wen, the very first woman elected to be the head of state of Taiwan, has taken early intervention measures that have controlled the coronavirus pandemic successfully. On the very first detection and spread of the virus, she immediately restricted all flights from mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau. She then set up an epidemic command centre and boosted production of face masks. She had perhaps the best of all coronavirus responses, and now Taiwan is exporting millions of face masks to help the EU to combat the virus.
Taiwan is exporting millions of face masks to help the EU to combat the virus.
Taiwan has a 548 total cases, 7 deaths, and 44 active cases of the coronavirus.
2) German | Angela Merkel
German Chancellor Angela Merkel took the bull by the horns, addressed the nation in April and warned the situation to its people. Now, Germany has the most intensive care beds and the largest-scale coronavirus testing program in Europe, thus detecting the virus early enough to isolate and treat patients effectively.
Germany has 393,525 total cases, 10,014 deaths, and 81,411 active cases of the coronavirus.
3) New Zealand | Jacinda Ardern
New Zealand is a country that is highly dependent on international tourism, yet it’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern took early action to shut down its borders for tourism in March and imposed a month-long lockdown on the entire country requiring all non-essential workers to stay at home thus limiting coronavirus casualties to just a few deaths. With one of the best coronavirus responses currently, Ardern won reelection on the promise of spurring the beleaguered economy.
On the back of her calm and effective coronavirus response, Ardern roared back to power with a historic win.
New Zealand has 1,914 total cases, 25 deaths, and 58 active cases of the coronavirus.
4) Finland | Sanna Marin
The Nordic countries mostly led by women are great examples as well when it comes to leading the nation in times of crises, with some of the best coronavirus responses in Europe. Finland’s Prime Minister, Sanna Marin, is the world’s youngest leader but she has 85% approval rating among Finns for her preparedness for the pandemic, with a population of 5.5 million.
Marin has 85% approval rating among Finns for her preparedness for the pandemic.
Finland has a 14,255 total cases, 355 deaths, and 4,100 active cases of the coronavirus.
5) Iceland | Katrín Jakobsdóttir
Iceland’s Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir governs a small island country with only a small population. However, it’s large-scale, randomized testing of the coronavirus had broad ramifications for the rest of the world, as it was found that around half of all people who test positive for the virus are asymptomatic. Iceland also intervened early, aggressively contact-tracing and quarantining suspected coronavirus cases.
Sweden’s widespread, randomized testing had broad ramifications for the world, as it was found that around half of positive cases are asymptomatic.
Iceland has 4,268 total cases, 11 deaths, and 1,159 active cases of the coronavirus.
The Worst Responses
US President Donald Trump leads the lot here. The Covid-19 management strategies of some leaders have been nothing less that chaotic. Some of the worst responses to the coronavirus pandemic in these countries expose not just administrative but political and ideological flaws as well.
Watch: Trump’s 10 Most Outrageous Lines On Coronavirus
1) USA | Donald Trump
President Donald Trump‘s handling of the situation has not gone down well with the majority of the masses. He claims non-existent successes and blames everyone else for the catastrophe, ignoring blunders committed by him and his administration. His response has largely been an extension of his re-election campaign.
Trump claims non-existent successes and blames everyone else for the catastrophe, ignoring blunders committed by him and his administration.
The USA has 8,585,748 total cases, 227,419 deaths, and 2,755,304 active cases of the coronavirus.
2) Brazil | Jair Bolsonaro
In Brazil, the far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, has downplayed the crisis and is defying his own health ministry’s appeal for social distancing. The drawback of the decision which Bolsonaro took was that he put economic wellbeing above lives. the shutdown process which was initiated by was considered as secretive, narcissistic, and impulsive on decision-making.
Bolsonaro has downplayed the crisis and continues to defy his own health ministry’s guidelines.
Brazil has 5,300,649 total cases, 155,459 deaths, and 388,701 active cases of the coronavirus.
3) India | Narendra Modi
In India, nationalist PM Narendra Modi locked down his country with hardly notice or time for preparation, forcing chaos among the billion plus citizens. Penniless migrant laborers with little food were left fighting for survival. Drawing attention away from the reality through rhetoric, the Indian government has aggravated the situation. India now stands as the second most affected nation in the world, rapidly catching up with the USA. India, however, has a lesser mortality rate that the other worst-affection countries.
Drawing attention away from the reality through rhetoric, the Indian government has aggravated the situation.
India has 7,708,947 total cases, 116,681 deaths, and 717,748 active cases of the coronavirus.
4) Turkey | Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is reluctant to do anything to stall the Turkish economy and is jailing journalists who say he is not doing enough for victims of the virus. The language of the pandemic has been that “we are in a battle”. There is no turning back. No response was taken up by Erdogan, in the initial stages.
Erdogan is arresting journalists who say he is not doing enough for victims of the virus.
Turkey has a 353,426 total cases, 9,513 deaths, and 35,467 active cases of the coronavirus.
5) UK | Boris Johnson
UK PM Boris Johnson dismissed the severity of the public health crisis and refused to introduce restrictions on social gatherings long after other European countries went into lockdown. With the second wave of coronavirus spreading throughout the world, especially starting with Europe, the attitudes of these populist leaders like Johnson, Erdogan and Bolsonaro point to their callousness regarding the severity of the pandemic.
The UK has 789,229 total cases and 44,158 deaths. Number of active cases of the coronavirus in the UK is not available.
Different Shades of Coronavirus Responses and Patterns that Emerge
The world has seen different ways in which leaders have performed during pandemic times. The leaders may be put in three categories; first are the status quo leaders who are afraid of taking tough decisions and are not able to understand the current situation. They display a lack of clarity and hence are not suited to deal with the pandemic. The second category is of authoritative and megalomaniac leaders who are riding on their misplaced popularity and are taking impractical and brash decisions. They are displaying their erratic behavior. And the lastly are the ones who are sensitive and compassionate — who comprehend the demands of the situation, and have taken up well thought through decisions. They are sympathetic towards the sensibilities and fear of their people; they are the leaders who are most effective in combatting the pandemic. They are frequently in a strive to reassure the faith of their people in leadership and to bring stability no matter what the circumstances are.
The Nordic countries, along with New Zealand, Taiwan and Germany, are led by honest and compassionate leaders. They have contained the pandemic through early scientific interventions and the trust placed in them by the public, culminating in some of the best coronavirus responses. The mighty and egotist leaders of US, UK, Russia, Brazil and Turkey in a way have failed in containing the coronavirus pandemic due to their irrational and autocratic leadership, thus setting examples of the worst responses.
Coronavirus numbers as of October 22nd, 2020, aggregated by worldometers.info.