That’s the headline on my newest story, out Tuesday, which I wrote with my colleague Feliz Solomon. It begins:
Hong Kong and Singapore reported their first cases of the novel coronavirus in January. Four months later, the densely packed Asian metropolises, with a combined population of about 13 million, have seen 27 fatalities between them.
Just 0.4% of those with confirmed infections have died in Hong Kong. In Singapore—less than 0.1%. If the U.S. had a similar fatality rate as the average of the two, its death toll would now stand at about 4,100, rather than 98,000 and growing.
“When you overwhelm health systems a lot more people die,” said David Owens, founder of Hong Kong medical practice OT&P Healthcare, who has treated patients for Covid-19. Hong Kong and Singapore “didn’t let the epidemic run wild.”
The cities’ fatality rates—among the lowest in the world—show that coronavirus outbreaks don’t have to result in large-scale loss of life. Their playbook: test widely, quarantine aggressively and treat patients early to avoid fatal complications and overburdened health systems.