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Continual lockdowns are not the answer to bringing Covid under control

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In April, cafes and restaurants opened in Vietnam full of bustle and life. In July, 10,000 baseball fans attended a match in a stadium in Taiwan. In August, thousands packed together for a music concert at the Wuhan Maya Beach Water Park in China. And this month, rugby internationals are going ahead in New Zealand with stadiums at full capacity.

Daily life within these places has largely returned to normal. Compared to other countries, they have faced minimal economic damage. In fact, Taiwan never even had a lockdown, while lockdown measures in Vietnam, New Zealand and China were early, short and sharp. Out of a population of 1.4bn people, China has only suffered 4,634 Covid-19 deaths; Vietnam, Taiwan and New Zealand together have had 67. How are these countries keeping Covid-19 under control, their health services running, and their economies and societies afloat?

That’s the question we should all be asking. Instead, seven months into this crisis, the UK remains stuck in endless cycles of lockdown measures, its media still fixated on paralysing debates about how serious the virus really is and what the optimal strategy for addressing it should be.

The UK initially made the mistake of treating coronavirus like flu. It was late to lock down, initially allowing the virus to spread through the population like a common cold. Once the severity of the virus became clear and the government enforced a lockdown, it squandered time and instead waited to see what would happen.

Over the course of the past few months, the case numbers have gone up and down. During the summer, the UK appeared to have crushed the curve and brought its R number under control. But rather than replacing harsh lockdown measures with a functioning testing and tracing strategy, switching from quarantining the........

© The Guardian

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