Why Mongolia has so few COVID-19 cases?
As of June 5th, 2020 Mongolia has 186 cases of people diagnosed with coronavirus. There has been no deaths and 65 people have recovered from the COVID-19.
All of the cases came from people who were repatriated from abroad. Beginning from March, Mongolia closed all air traffic, and only special chartered flights are allowed to fly in and out. Every passenger that arrived on these flights have been placed in 14-day (now 21 day) quarantine in hospitals and specially designated hotels. All of them have been extensively tested before being released from the hospitals. This is how we know about the 186 cases and were able to stop the spread of the disease in the local population.
Because of early measures taken by the Mongolian Government, there has been zero local transmission of COVID-19 in Mongolia. I would dare to say Mongolia executed a textbook successful response to the epidemic.
Mongolia was successful in preventing the COVID-19 epidemic because of a simple reason: it let the specialists, not the politicians take the lead.
Based on the information received from WHO and China, Mongolia convened special emergency meeting on January 25th, five days before corona virus was declared Public Health Emergency of International Concern. During the emergency meeting, they authorized to close all the schools and kindergartens and most importantly it advised the local population to wear masks.
Wearing the masks was not an easy task, but our politicians, TV news anchors, public personalities have urged the population to wear them every day. Every government meeting would be conducted in masks, TV news anchors would wear masks to highlight the importance of wearing them. The public campaign starting from January 25th, urging the population to wear masks was one of the most important and crucial steps in stopping the spread of the virus. Compare this to other countries when they started recommended wearing masks. US, for example, started recommending wearing masks only on April 3rd.
When Mongolia received the first case of coronavirus on March 2nd, everybody was wearing the masks. So no person got sick because of interaction with the patient #1. Hundreds of people who were in contact with the patient have been tested.
Shortly after, Mongolia closed all air traffic and all the people who were repatriated have been automatically quarantined for 21 days. The automatic quarantine came about, because of realization that people do not follow the advice to stay home for two weeks after arriving from abroad.
Knowing that Mongolian citizens would eventually get COVID-19, the Mongolian government conducted an unprecedented drill to fight off the COVID-19. During the drill it closed off entire district of more 150,000 people for one day in order to test the responses of the emergency specialists and hospitals. I wrote in more detail here:
It was not an accident that there was no COVID-19 local transmission in Mongolia. Local authorities have fully supported and allowed public health specialists to take the lead in implementing a successful strategy to stop the COVID-19 in Mongolia.