On January 24th, Mongolia’s emergency committee chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister convened and announced that they are going to close all the schools for a month, the Government has been instructed to prepare emergency supplies for medical professionals, several hospitals were designated for the novel coronavirus patients. The road and train border crossing with China was closed. But most importantly, they asked everybody to start wearing masks.
To give you perspective, China on January 25th officially announced that it had 830 sick and 25 dead from novel coronavirus. Mongolia made consultations with China and WHO. Based on the information and its own investigation, the committee decided to take these drastic steps.
The picture above was taken during the meeting. It would be the last time you see government people in Mongolia not wearing masks.
The next meetings would look like the above picture. No more cups and water, the only thing on the table is the hand sanitizer.
MNB, Mongolian public broadcaster and the most watched news channel followed the suit. It is a bit silly for a newscaster to use masks, but the purpose of the mask is to remind people that they have to wear them.
There was initial run on the masks and they quickly became the most sought after products. The prices for them went sky high. The offenders were quickly fined for price gauging and hoarding of the masks.
The biggest medical mask manufacturer started doubling and tripling the production. But then it hit the snag. Guess where did this company buy its raw materials from? Yes, Wuhan was the major source. Then they had to start buying from alternative source, South Korea. SK was the next epicenter of COVID-19. Other manufacturers and regular people started making cloth masks. Now there is no shortage of masks.
Like everybody else, I was not that sure that the masks would help, but continued wearing them. The masks did help with the arrival of coronavirus in Mongolia.
The first patient was a French citizen who was confirmed COVID-19 positive on March 10th. By then, everybody was wearing masks. Because of this, none of his 100 primary contacts and 500 secondary contacts became sick.
Due to many Mongols stranded abroad, we have started repatriating them. Now each person who flew on chartered flights is put on 21-day quarantine. They are kept in several hotels one-person-per-room. This has been successful so far, as 35 people among them have been tested positive. The latest jump was due to Mongolian students who arrived from Moscow. I believe 16 have been tested positive.
Just yesterday, they announced two more people, a husband and wife truck drivers became the latest victims. They drive trucks between EU and Mongolia. Whenever trucks enter Mongolia they now have to drive in convoys with police escort. The police cars are there so that the drivers would have no contact with the local population. After they deliver the goods, the drivers now have to go through mandatory 21 day quarantine.
As an extra precaution they closed all the incoming and outbound car traffic between the cities in the destination the drivers traveled for five days. Basically, UB is now closed to all the traffic from the provinces.
So far there have been 35 cases of COVID-19 patients. 8 of them have recovered and 27 are in stable condition. There have been no deaths and no local transmission of coronavirus so far. The number of patients would most probably increase as we are still repatriating the citizens from abroad.
I took this photo several days ago. There are not many people walking outside and people are wearing masks.