How Are Governments Responding To The Coronavirus Pandemic?

Governments around the world resort to variations of response measures and policies to end COVID-19.

With over four million confirmed cases worldwide, governments have been coming up with different ways to form an effective COVID-19 pandemic response.

In order to monitor which among these wide ranges of measures are working and also to allow country-to-country comparisons, researchers from the Blavatnik School of Government at the University of Oxford created the Coronavirus Government Response Tracker (OxCGRT).

As a summary measure of how strict a government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic is, the OxCGRT project created the Government Stringency Index.

The Index takes a value from 0 to 100, with 100 indicative of the strictest possible response.


The Government Stringency Index scores of countries included in the OxCGRT data set are visualised by Our World in Data through the map shown above.

By moving the time slider, it can be observed that the stringency of the government policies have been increasing as the coronavirus continues to spread. This week, the variations in the Index scores are no longer as pronounced as they were in the early days of the pandemic.

Djibouti, Kuwait, and Puerto Rico recorded the strictest government responses based on the Index, with their most recent scores all equal to 100.

In the United States where the highest number of confirmed cases in the world (over 1.3 million as of May 12) has been recorded, the Index rating currently stands at a fairly high 71.58.

In the second worst-hit Spain with over 200,000 cases, the Index score is higher than the U.S. at 89.41. Meanwhile, the United Kingdom which has the third-highest number of COVID-19 cases registered an Index score of 82.27.

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In Taiwan where the virus has been fairly contained, the Index score stands at a low 29.36. Meanwhile, in China which is on the brink of a possible second wave of infections after their attempt to reopen has an Index score of 59.14 — an increase from the record-low 51.20 from the recent weeks — reflecting the reintroduction of lockdowns in some areas to prevent an all-out surge.

The stringency index

The Government Stringency Index is a composite measure consisting of nine containment and closure policies that are being monitored by the OxCGRT:

  1. School closures
  2. Workplace closures
  3. Cancellation of public events
  4. Restrictions on public gatherings
  5. Closures of public transport
  6. Stay-at-home requirements
  7. Public information campaigns
  8. Restrictions on internal movement
  9. Restrictions on international travel

OxCGRT emphasized that the Index is not supposed to be viewed as a measure of the appropriateness or the effectiveness of a government’s coronavirus response. The Index does not measure how well the policies are enforced, either.

Instead, it only measures how strict are the interventions a government put in place in response to COVID-19.

Other government responses to COVID-19

Apart from the containment and closure indicators that are included in the Index, some other government measures recorded and monitored by the OxCGRT project are economic responses:

  1. Income support
  2. Debt/contract relief for households
  3. Fiscal measures
  4. Giving international support

There are also health system measures being implemented:

  1. Public information campaign
  2. Testing policy
  3. Contact tracing
  4. Emergency investment in healthcare
  5. Investment in Covid-19 vaccines

If you want to see the up-to-date policies implemented by governments around the world, you may visit the OxCGRT site.

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