Follows WHO’s recommendations from the onset . . .
After China announced the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in late December, Mongolia became the second country after North Korea to close its borders with China. On January 27, Mongolia closed all schools, universities, and kindergartens, and required all citizens to wear masks at work and in public. The government then established (on February 19) an inter-agency task force and cancelled Lunar New Year celebrations – a major event, involving extensive travel and wrestling competitions. This required shutting down public transportation and blocking all major roads between the capital city and provincial centres from February 21 to 27. At the same time, all passengers (road, rail, and air) were and still are required to have their temperatures checked. The National Center for Communicable Diseases isolates anyone who recently returned from China or South Korea with coronavirus symptoms for a 14-day quarantine.
Very few cases so far . . .
Mongolia is vulnerable to the spread of COVID-19 because it is closely connected to China and South Korea. Both countries serve as primary gateways for Mongolian travellers abroad and host thousands of Mongolian students (5,500 in South Korea and 10,000 in China). Mongolians trade daily with Chinese counterparts through 12 ports along a 4,630-km-long land border, while the largest Mongolian diaspora community (some 50,000 people) is in South Korea. There are also 4,000 South Koreans and thousands of Chinese workers who work in Mongolia. Despite these close connections, Mongolia has only 10 confirmed cases, including one French national. The Mongolian State Emergency Commission today extended its heightened state of readiness for the coronavirus outbreak until April 30.
Masks, public awareness, and isolation . . .
All confirmed cases in Mongolia so far have been travellers. Nine cases were Mongolian citizens on special chartered flights returning from South Korea, Turkey, and Berlin. The government’s policy of requiring everyone to wear a face mask seems to be effectively constraining habits of spitting and face touching, and reducing the close-contact spread of the virus. The government also has increased public awareness by providing daily updates on testing results, especially of those returning from abroad, and even promoting ‘virtual greetings’ during the Lunar New Year and Nauryz (Muslim New Year). The inter-agency task force aggressively traces any suspected case and requires mandatory isolation at designated locations until passing three sequential tests. The Mongolian case, along with Taiwan and South Korea, raises the importance of aggressive testing and enforced isolation for Canada.
- Gogo.mn: Daily briefing of the Ministry of Health (in Mongolian)
- Forbes: Mongolia announces 3 new COVID-19 cases, totaling 4
- Mongolia Focus: Coronavirus & Mongolia