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More time lost before imposing ‘full’ lockdown means more COVID-19-related deaths

By Bahauddin Foizee - posted Thursday, 9 April 2020

Like last century's two world wars, the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak has adversely affected the entire world. However, unlike the world wars, the enemy in this war against the virus that causes COVID-19 is invisible.

Medical experts and practitioners are finding it hard to come up with a medical solution to cure the disease. The strategy for the time being is, therefore, to contain the spread of the disease (COVID-19) and the virus (CoronaVirus) that causes it.

The World Health Organization (WHO) officials and other experts from around the world have repeatedly recommended that a 'complete' lockdown of countries and/or cities - together with testing every person thought to be infected, and treating and isolating confirmed COVID-19 patients - is the only option available to contain the spread of the disease and the virus.


Yet many governments are either sticking to a 'partial' lockdown or still waiting for the "right time" to impose a lockdown - contrary to the 'full' or 'complete' lockdown which the experts have been recommending for weeks.

Moreover, these lockdowns should be not only 'full' and 'complete' but also 'early' and 'immediate'. A government should impose lockdown immediately after finding the first confirmed cases of COVID-19 in its country. The situations in a number of COVID-19-hit countries - such as Italy and the USA - are excellent examples of what can happen if lockdown is delayed.

Italy is the worst COVID-19-hit country so far. The country's healthcare system has collapsed. Nothing is working. Waves of bad news continue to come out of Italy every single day. The number of both infected patients and deaths in Italy has exceeded those in China.

The US, too, is heading in the same direction, with the country's number of infected patients exceeding both China and Italy, while the death toll is catching up as well. Clearly, the Italian and American governments have wasted plenty of time before imposing their lockdowns, allowing the virus to spread throughout a large portion of the population.

India and the UK, too, have delayed imposing a complete lockdown. While the UK's numbers of infected patients and deaths are accelerating, it is yet to be seen whether the delay will cost India an exponential number of casualties. Taking Italy as an example of the adverse impact of a delayed response, it appears that India, the second-most populous country on earth, could be heading in the same direction as Italy.

Furthermore, many experts believe that those countries that chose holidays instead of full lockdown could face serious problems. After all, these governments' delayed- and less-strict-response has already allowed the virus to spread widely among their population.


In contrast, the cities and countries that imposed 'early' lockdowns are experiencing fewer cases of COVID-19 patients. Take Saudi Arabia, for example. The earlier and stricter approach has put Saudi Arabia among the list of countries that are experiencing slower infection rates and a lower death toll.

Saudi Arabia has taken several restrictive measures - including closing down mosques across the country and banning worshipers from performing their pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca - in order to contain the spread of the virus. So far these measures have worked well, as the number of the COVID-19-related patients and deaths in the country is low.

Therefore the best option available against the COVID-19 is a full, strict and early lockdown - together with testing people possibly infected, and treating and isolating confirmed cases. Indeed, a virus mutating and spreading more rapidly by the day cannot be given time to mutate and spread any further.

If full and stricter restrictions by way of lockdown are not imposed on the entire populations as 'early' as possible, the virus will start to spread widely among healthier young people, who, in contrast to older people, are comparatively safer from being infected by the virus, supposedly due to their better immune system.

In contrast, the more time the governments waste before imposing full lockdown, the more people will be infected, and of those many thousands could lose their lives.

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Article edited by Margaret-Ann Williams.
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This article was originally published on Oped Column Syndication.

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About the Author

Bahauddin Foizee is a threat/risk intelligence analyst focusing on the assessment of investment, legal, security, political and geopolitical threat/risk. He also collaborates with other analysts who regularly assess social, environmental, financial and military threat/risk. He has been published on Asia Times, The Diplomat, The National Interest, and Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies, among others.

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