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Study Warns Of Second Waves Of Covid-19 Due To Early Lifting Of Lockdowns

Study Warns Of Second Waves Of Covid-19 Due To Early Lifting Of Lockdowns
According to researchers, a second wave of infection of the coronavirus could be delayed in China by extending the closures of school and work at the ground zero of the pandemic. Researchers also urged the rest of the world, parts of which are already under lockdown, to take note of this warning.
A two-month lockdown in the city of Wuhan in China, which is believed to be the place where the coronavirus was first transmitted from animals to humans late last year, is being loosed by the authorities there now that the massive containment measures there have been largely successful and the epicenter of the pandemic has shifted to Europe, suggested a study in The Lancet Public Health journal. The delaying of the second wave of the pandemic will give health services more time to recover and expand which can possibly help authorities to save lives.
“The city now needs to be really careful to avoid prematurely lifting physical distancing measures, because that could lead to an earlier secondary peak in cases,” said Kiesha Prem, a specialist at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), who co-led the research.
“If they relax the restrictions gradually, this is likely to both delay and flatten the peak.”
A mathematical model that simulated the scenarios for the impact of extending or relaxing school and workplace closures in Wuhan was used in the study. Wuhan has a population of about 11 million people and the name of the city has become synonymous all over the world with the coronavirus.
The analysis in the study suggested that a second rush of infections could occur in late August if the restrictions on the schools and workplace sin the city are lifted now. But a second peak could be delayed until October this year if the restriction and closures are maintained for the whole of April which will give the healthcare system a chance to regoup and get ready for the second wave of infections.
Tim Colbourn, an expert in global health epidemiology at University College London, who was not directly involved in the study. said that the findings were “crucial for policy makers everywhere”.
China’s draconian lockdown measures are being replicated by governments all across the world with the sudden and very rapid spread of the virus. Governments, scientists and statisticians are also trying to work out the risk of recurrences after the passing away of the peaks in the respective countries.
“Our results won’t look exactly the same in another country,” said Yang Liu, an LSHTM expert who also worked on the research. “But we think one thing probably applies everywhere: physical distancing measures are very useful, and we need to carefully adjust their lifting to avoid subsequent waves of infection ... If those waves come too quickly, that could overwhelm health systems.”
The same view as expressed on Wednesday by the World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and said that the best way to stop transmission were lockdowns. “The last thing any country needs is to open schools and businesses only to be forced to close them again because of a resurgence,” he said.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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