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The evidence is clear: if countries act together, they can suppress Covid

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Just 10 days after calling a national lockdown “the height of absurdity”, the prime minister announced on Saturday evening a four-week national lockdown in England starting on Thursday 5 November and lasting until 2 December. In a reminder of March, people are being asked to “stay at home” unless for essential purposes, and to avoid meeting others indoors or in private gardens. Pubs, restaurants, fitness studios and gyms will also have to close while, in an important distinction from the first lockdown, schools, colleges and universities will remain open for in-person learning.

Even with these new measures in place, thousands of people will still die of Covid-19 in the weeks to come, given the lag in lockdown measures on transmission. The recent Imperial REACT-1 study estimated that almost 100,000 people in England are being infected with the virus every day. The associated steep rise in hospital cases and deaths indicates that, without harsh measures, a second wave could be even more deadly than the first, and last longer.

Perhaps those who hypothesised that the second wave of the 1918 flu pandemic was driven by boredom and fatigue were indeed correct. The country has endured some form of lockdown since late March. Unemployment is increasing and the economy is being slowly strangled. There’s been little to no payoff for the sacrifices made in the spring, just more grim news and hopelessness. England now finds itself in a groundhog situation, governed by politicians who would rather follow public opinion than lead.

England’s trajectory follows Europe’s, and those of the other three nations of the UK. France, Germany and Ireland have all implemented strict restrictions to curtail the exponential growth of coronavirus cases. Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland all went into early circuit-breakers trying to avoid the previous mistakes of delaying action. However, these three nations are dependent on the UK government for financial packages to support any economic restrictions introduced, limiting their ability to continue these beyond the end of the furlough........

© The Guardian

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