Many people around the world are calling for an easing of restrictions. Shouldn’t we at least start to open up some areas? The worst of the virus is in the past, right?
If we have learnt anything from this pandemic it should be 2 things, COVID-19 is highly contagious and can be deadly. 3 months ago, there were only 7000 people infected, and just 170 people had died from the virus. Jump forward to the 16th of April, and now there are over 2 million confirmed cases with over 137,000 deaths. Many nations infection numbers are still growing by over 500 or even 1,000 per day. I wouldn’t say we’ve seen the worst in America yet either.
If countries start to open up too early, there could be a risk of unleashing a second wave of coronavirus infection. Nations are talking about their timeline. A structured and organised plan to gradually re-open society. However, the challenges of a second wave are still real if there are confirmed cases within the public.
The coronavirus was first reported in China in December 2019 before spreading to over 180 countries. While they were the epicentre of the virus until February, that has now shifted to America, Italy and Spain. However, China has already witnessed a second wave of infections, prompting the government to close its international borders.
Singapore also endured a second wave which is arguably still going after its confirmed infections rose by another 400 yesterday. Singapore made the decision to prioritise testing and tracing, which worked effectively until the extreme number of imported cases made testing and tracing almost impossible. We can learn from their errors to establish that testing cases and tracing contacts is important, but a policy of strict social distancing is the only effective exit strategy.
The other fascinating nation is Sweden. From the beginning of this pandemic, they decided to take a relaxed approach to the virus, placing their trust in the hands of civilians. Rather than telling people what to do, the Government asked Swedes to do the right thing and gave them the liberty to prove they are responsible citizens. Gyms are open, bars are open, and only social gatherings of more than 50 people are allowed. Yesterday, Sweden recorded 482 infections and 170 deaths. Australia recorded 47 infections and 2 deaths. The numbers speak for themselves.
So, when is the right time to ease restrictions?
Well, there are three options.
Firstly, when we hit the number zero. If there are zero confirmed case in a nation, then we can open up the country again.
Secondly, if there is a viable vaccine, then we can ease restrictions.
Thirdly, if a country can develop Herd immunity. This refers to a situation where sufficient people in a population have become immune to a disease such that it effectively stops the disease from spreading.
These are the only three circumstances when all restrictions should be eased. We can have a gradual decrease in restrictions in critical areas such as schools and activities which adhere to social distancing, but we cannot let society become complacent.
Just because we are doing better than we were a week ago doesn’t mean that the virus is over. As stated earlier, this virus is highly contagious and can be deadly. What is the pointing of risking all of the work we’ve done to possibly have to start again?
It’s as if you’re halfway through a University assignment and you notice that you haven’t saved your work yet, but you decide to just risk it. Why not just take the time to save it?
Stay home. Stay connected, socially, not physically.