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New Delhi: With the Covid-19 pandemic instilling fear in the minds of the people, the cities across the world witnessed certain changes right from wearing face masks to closure of markets, offices and schools besides becoming more vigilant in terms of health protections and overall security to better protect their population.
Despite all odds, five cities – including Copenhagen, Toronto, Singapore, Sydney and Tokyo – emerged successful in creating a secure, inclusive and resilient environment for the betterment of its populace, the Economist Intelligence Unit recently said in its 2021 Safe Cities Index list.
Those ranked at the top of the list had factors illustrating how overall safety correlates to a strong sense of social cohesion, total population inclusion and societal trust.
Denmark’s capital Copenhagen, ranked at the top of the index, ranked predominantly well due to the index’s new environmental security pillar, which measures sustainability (including renewable energy incentives), air quality, waste management and urban forest cover.
Asbjørn Overgaard, the CEO of non-profit Copenhagen Capacity and a resident of Denmark, said “the parks and green areas as well as waterways were extremely popular during the pandemic. Copenhageners were strolling around buying takeaway and enjoying the city’s many breathing spaces”, BBC reported.
The community spirit of the country, best summed up in the Danish word samfundssind, also enables citizens of the country to work together and trust each other — including government officials – to create a safer living environment, according to the Safe Cities Index released recently by the Economist Intelligence Unit.
Continuing to provide “Corona-guides” to assist the people, Copenhagen also implemented a massive Covid testing programme, which remains free for everyone, including tourists.
With strong scores in infrastructure and environmental security, Canada’s largest city Toronto ranked a close second in the index in overall safety.
The residents here credit an inclusive culture, which values targeted communication across communities, especially when it comes to vaccine awareness and adoption.
The residents here feel safe because of the city’s long history of multiculturalism.
“In Toronto, it is normal to be born outside Canada. I’ve found that different ethnic and cultural groups actually interact with each other and do not live in silos,” said Filipe Vernaza, who has lived in Toronto since 1998, BBC reported.
Singapore, which ranked second in digital security, health security and infrastructure security, used these strengths to move fast during the early days of the Covid pandemic.
Singapore, which rolled out digital monitoring and contact tracing quickly, also boasts of one of the world’s highest vaccination rates (currently at 80%).
Singapore resident Sam Lee, who runs an eponymous travel blog, said: “Before they can enter the buildings or premises, all residents need to scan their TraceTogether token or phone app for SafeEntry check-ins.”
“This allows the [authorities] to track down individuals who might have mingled or interacted with the infected ones quickly so that a quarantine order can be carried out to contain or break the virus transmission link,” he added, BBC reported.
Sydney, one of Australia’s largest cities, scored fifth overall in the index and in the top 10 for health security.
The residents here have long felt a strong sense of personal safety in the streets along with feeling protected from the pandemic.
Australian travel website Passport Down Under founder Chloe Scorgie, who first moved to Sydney in 2018, said “I have truly never felt as safe in a country as I have living in Sydney”, BBC reported.
Australia, which was one of the first nations to completely shut its borders during the Covid pandemic, has maintained strict lockdowns in the face of rising cases.
The per capita Covid death rate in the country continues to be one of the lowest in the world.
Several present restrictions are, however, expected to be lifted soon as vaccinations reach 70 percent in New South Wales. Besides, the international borders are set to open next month.
Japan’s capital Tokyo ranked fifth in the overall index and at the very top of the health security index, which measures factors like universal healthcare, pandemic preparedness, life expectancy, mental health and Covid-19 mortality.
Despite the cases surging during the Olympics, the rates have fallen dramatically as vaccinations have reached nearly 60 percent of the population.
In view of the same, the country announced the end of the federal state of emergency and the gradual lifting of restrictions as of the end of last month.
Japan now plans to encourage the use of its vaccine passport for admittance to medical facilities and large events besides encouraging businesses to offer discounts or coupons to passport holders.
Tokyo also scored in the top five for its infrastructure security, which includes transport safety, pedestrian friendliness and transportation networks.
The Global Youth Review magazine founder Sena Chang, a resident of Tokyo, said: “From the various lost-and-found centres at train stations to the almost unnecessary bike locks, there’s an immense amount of respect towards the wellbeing of others”. BBC reported.
“A centuries-long culture of collectivism and a great amount of respect for each other makes Tokyo the safest city I’ve lived in,” she added.
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