[imagesource: Joe Giddens/PA Wire]
Around the world, people are living under some or other form of lockdown.
South Africa’s lockdown laws are among the most stringent, and on the other side of the equation, you have the likes of Sweden and Belarus.
The UK was slow to react to the spread of the coronavirus, and now has close to 13 000 deaths. Going forward, some tough decisions will need to be made.
Here’s Sky News:
The government is expected to announce an extension of the UK’s coronavirus restrictions later today, as health minister Nadine Dorries suggested “full lockdown” would be required until a vaccine for COVID-19 is found.
The current measures have been in place for more than three weeks, and this morning the cabinet will receive a briefing on the latest scientific and medical advice via video conference…
Let’s hope they’ve all learn from the Belgian health minister, and nobody engages in a spot of nose-picking.
Here’s what Dorries tweeted last night, suggesting lockdown laws should be here to stay:
Before we carry on, here are some of the most retweeted responses to what Nadine said above.
Bill Gates is not a popular man, it seems:
These opinions are widely held:
Yeah, damn these scientists and their vaccines, man. I won’t be a part of that system!
Dorries later clarified what she meant, after some panicked reactions:
When challenged over her comments Ms Dorries, who has herself recovered from coronavirus, attempted to clarify them saying: “I said society needs to adapt. It would be more helpful to talk about ‘relaxing lockdown’ than constantly demanding an ‘exit strategy’.
“My point being, some of you guys need to start asking more intelligent questions.”
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has been pressed by the media to outline some sort of ‘exit strategy’, and stressed that lockdown measures will not be lifted until it is safe to do so.
…asked why the government had refused to discuss its “exit strategy”, as other European countries such as Germany and Italy have done, Mr Hancock said: “Different countries are in different stages in this epidemic, and one of the things that I think we have learnt during this crisis is that the clarity of the guidance to the public is incredibly important and hence we repeat it.”
Opposition party members have stressed that the government should, at the very least, publish its strategy for lifting the restrictions so that the public doesn’t lose confidence in the process, and to ensure “transparency”.
The Telegraph has looked at four potential ‘exit strategies’, or ‘relaxing lockdown’ strategies to keep Dorries happy, all of which “involve waiting until the virus has peaked and the number of deaths has started to fall dramatically”.
Let’s start with intermittent social distancing:
…some social distancing and lockdown measures would continue throughout much of the year, but there would be breaks in which life would get back to normal.
For example, social distancing could be alternated on a regional basis to give people a rest from draconian restrictions…
A fragmentary, regional lockdown would give the NHS a series of breaks, allowing it to ramp up capacity and then enjoy quieter periods.
And it would allow time for a vaccine or treatment to be created and for immunity in the population to build up slowly.
Good thing they didn’t use the term “herd immunity”, because that hasn’t worked out well for Boris Johnson and many, many others.
The second strategy would be to allow the healthy and immune out:
Shielding the vulnerable, and allowing the healthy or immune out to carry on with their lives and get back to work, could be a way to break the deadlock and allow major parts of society to return to normal.
The Government has promised that antibody tests – which show whether someone has had the virus and is now immune – will be available within weeks, and Britons could soon be issued “immunity certificates” that would allow them to leave the lockdown…
Under this scenario, the Government could also bring in weekly testing for people most at risk of spreading the disease, such as doctors, nurses, supermarket workers and delivery staff.
The third, aggressively named strategy, is seek and destroy:
This strategy involves waiting until the virus is at a very low level, lifting restrictions and combating the remaining cases through aggressive contact tracing, testing, isolation, and precision quarantine zones.
The method has been adopted successfully in Singapore and South Korea, which have coped far better than most other countries, and have done so without major lockdowns.
Finally, there is the long game approach, wait for vaccine or treatment:
The final option is to wait it out until a vaccine or treatment is available and then build up herd immunity. Many scientists think that is the only long-term solution to getting life back to normal.
Earlier this month, Prof Neil Ferguson, the key epidemiologist advising the Government, said: “The only exit strategy from this long term is vaccination or some other kind of innovative technology.”
Scientists have predicted that the first vaccines will not be available until the end of the year at the earliest, and even then, they will be reserved for frontline workers and the most vulnerable in the first instance.
Some vaccines are already in the human testing stage, but we are a long way from a vaccine becoming available to the public.
Of course, what measures work in the UK may differ widely from what works here in South Africa, so we have our own set of tough decisions to make going forward.
The lockdown is currently due to cease at the end of April, but don’t expect life to return to anything close to normal for quite some time.
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