Uruguay is the only country in South America that's 'beating COVID-19', according to endcoronavirus.org. Everything without establishing a mandatory quarantine, trusting in the responsibility of citizens.
¿What's Uruguay's secret to being one of the 46 countries in the world that are beating COVID-19?
Responsibility & leadership, tech, and a great medical system.
Responsibility & Leadership
Since the first cases were declared on March 13, 2020, Luis Lacalle Pou, Uruguay's president, appealed to the responsibility of citizens, asking people to stay at home. Schools and Universities immediately swapped to online classes, which was possible thanks to the fact that every public school student has a laptop (we were actually the first country in the world to provide laptops to all our students, in 2009). Luckily, students have now already gone back to school! Remote work was also promoted, but people could still go to work if it was necessary, which kept the economy circulating. The government also created special unemployment insurances and credits for business.
One of the government's first measurements was creating a Coronavirus Fund to cover social and health needs brought by the virus. The president reduced his own salary, the ministers, legislators and high-ranking public officials a 20% to collaborate with the Coronavirus Fund. This showed great leadership to the citizens and motivated people to realize the seriousness of the matter and stay at home.
Tech: The Digital Face-mask
Uruguay is already well-known for being the largest software exporter per capita in Latin America, and the third-largest in the world. The country has an English-speaking highly qualified and well-educated workforce.
Maybe that's why Google and Apple took interest in Uruguay to collaborate with Coronavirus.UY, an app created to confront Coronavirus in the country. The app was developed by a large number of Uruguayan private companies and was initially created to make follow-ups of possible cases and confirmed cases of people with COVID-19.
Apple and Google chose Uruguay and three more countries to implement an innovative way of tracking possible coronavirus infections. The app implemented a tracking technology that notifies citizens if they have been in contact with someone that had a positive result in the test.
The app uses Bluetooth technology to track contacts between people. The system generates secret and unidentified keys from those who were less than five meters away for at least five minutes. If later on, someone receives a positive COVID-19 test, people who had been near him for more than 5 minutes will be notified. This helps the country control possible outbreaks. This system respects private policies by keeping the identity of the positive user, time, and place, anonymous.
The Industry Minister referred to this technology as "the digital mask". In his words, "it allows progress towards the new normality, with greater mobility and contact with the population by complementing it with the other sanitary measures".
Other tech solutions Uruguay used to fight COVID-19 are chatbots for frequently asked questions and Whatsapp & Facebook chats with experts.
The Uruguayan's health system was ranked 2nd best in the world in 2014, according to the Global Retirement Index. This integrated system between public and private health was a great backup to confront coronavirus.
Also, the Uruguayans Pasteur Institute and the Uruguayans Public Medicine University created innovative coronavirus test kits, which are much more economical. The tests are effective and present fast results.
The pandemic once more made evident Uruguay's great infrastructure, leadership, and technological capacity. We're really proud to have our head office here at Montevideo, UY :)
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