COVID Underdogs: Mongolia

Updated: Aug 11, 2020

Quick response, better response

Well, the best doesn’t always come from bigger things. Mongolia has proven this, with the best COVID-19 response in the world. This can be seen with their COVID stats. While big names like the U.S.A, INDIA are struggling to contain the virus, Mongolia has recorded ZERO DEATHS and they have ZERO LOCAL TRANSMISSIONS. Mongolia didn’t flatten the curve or crush the curve; they simply didn’t allow the epidemic to happen. There wasn’t an epidemic at all.

And like my previous COVID UNDERDOG countries, MONGOLIA also didn’t just get lucky.

January 22

People have a common misunderstanding of WHO as an organization. People believe WHO is a paramilitary, busting into countries, telling everyone what to do, etc. But that’s not how WHO work. They just help. It’s up to you to let them in and let them lend a helping hand. Mongolia did. On 22nd January, the Mongolian Health Ministry held a press briefing with the WHO to announce that the danger of pandemic is real.

Mongolia put their big person pants on in January. That made all the difference in the world for them.

January 25

The first thing they did was to protect their young ones. They announced the shutting of all schools until further notice. Another thing I want you to note is this. Every closure made by Mongolia was announced in advance. They weren’t like “oh shit, things are on fire get all your food by midnight” (Yes, you understand where I’m getting to). This preparedness and planned actions led to a gradual lockdown without all the chaos.

Mongolian government told people to wash hands, wear masks, and all the other things which many other countries only heard later. Mariah Carey didn’t teach Americans how to wash their hands until mid-March.

I don’t know if I told you guys, but Mongolia’s growth is almost completely export-driven, so by having ZERO cases they were taking a huge economic hit here. However, they were not like the dinosaurs in the west, looking at an asteroid yapping “but the economy!”

Yes, the hammer did come down on their economy but they didn’t negotiate with the virus or sacrificed anyone. This is textbook public health. Now, many of us would say isn’t Mongolia overreacting? When the same question was asked to Dr. Xifeng Wu, he said:

“Overreacting is better than not reacting.”

What was your country doing in January?

. . .


Throughout February, Mongolia was getting ready --- procuring test kits, PPE, and face masks; examined their food supplies and their hospitals and started cleaning the whole city up. No cases reported. But nobody let-up in readiness. No one was like “it’s not real!” or “burn the 5G towers!”

They suspended their New Year celebrations, which are a big deal in Asia. They even restricted intercity travel, and even the public supported the move. The public was not like “doing pujas and calling for Corona Devi for help without any protection!”

As you can see at every turn each country is reacting similarly but only doing when it's too late. This all may look like an overreaction at that point in time, but the fact of the matter is that Mongolia was always on time.

Other countries, however, were not as proactive as Mongolia, and I’m not talking about the bleach drinkers of the west.


After coming back from the trip of China, the Mongolian President himself went into quarantine, which is a public health communication itself. At this point, “Boris Johnson was proudly Shaking hands with COVID patients.”

Then it happened.

On March 10th, Mongolia recorded its first confirmed case of COVID-19. A French national who arrived from Moscow on 2nd March. Mongolia was ready. They isolated his entire office and even the horse he rode in on. They quarantined the entire aimag and shut down all the trains, cars, and public transport. They decontaminated 9.2 million square meters, across 6000 locations.

Just one case, they did this for one case. Now you all know the reason for no local transmission. It's never the population density. That advantage can be shattered by a single train ride. Mongolia just didn’t let transmission happen.

Coronavirus didn’t leave Mongolia alone. They killed it.

In the end, I would only say MONGOLIA is like the story of the ant and the grasshopper, or better, Jon Snow, they knew that winter was coming and they acted accordingly.

Official Writer: Abhishek Jha

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