As parts of Australia return to covert closure, what hope for the rest of the world?

One by one, the countries and areas that seemed most at the top of the coronavirus see a second and third wave of the virus, pointing again to enormous difficulties in curbing the pandemic even with partial border closures and quarantines.
Although the number of cases in both places is fading from daily figures reported across the United States or parts of Western Europe, this raises even more questions about when areas hardest hit by the virus will be able to return to normal, such is the difficulty in sustaining a pandemic that is contained even under the best of circumstances.

Fortunately for people in the affected areas, the risk of infection remains relatively low, and health authorities have responded quickly to relocate the virus.

Melbourne has specifically introduced intensive closure, tightening restrictions as more cases are reported this month.

Melbourne residents are no longer allowed to leave their homes unless it is a matter of grocery shopping, care, exercise or work. Cafes and restaurants that were allowed to reopen a few weeks ago have suspended regular services and now only offer delivery and departure options. All beauty services and entertainment venues are also closed.

“We talked about this virus being like a public health fire. By putting a ring around metropolitan Melbourne, we’re basically setting up a perimeter to protect regional Victorians,” said State Prime Minister Daniel Andrews.

“Clearly we are at the peak of our second wave and we cannot allow this virus to break through our communities.”

The closure of the border with New South Wales is the first time such a measure has been taken from the Spanish flu pandemic, 100 years ago. Other states have also imposed limitations about Victorians trying to keep the virus isolated in the southeast.

Online applications for permits to allow Victoria residents to travel on state lines began on Tuesday night, but the website crashed just 45 minutes after launching as 44,000 people applied, Australia’s national television ABC reported.

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Melbourne’s response is similar to that that followed in China, which managed to get its domestic epidemic largely under control a few months ago and responded to new sites of infection with quick, albeit sometimes draconian action.

Hong Kong is currently considering returning to certain restrictions, after weeks of relaxation and a return to normalcy, and the government has urged people to be vigilant on caution around wearing face masks, social distance and public hygiene.

In comments that could apply equally to Hong Kong as well as to Australia, Andrews, the Victorian prime minister, said that “I think a sense of complacency sank into us as we let our frustrations improve.”

“I think everyone knows someone who hasn’t followed the rules the way they should have. I think each of us knows we have no choice so we are taking very, very difficult steps,” he added.

But what if you are in a country where taking basic steps, let alone difficult ones, is seen as fighting the virus as anathema to many people?

If nothing else, the experience of countries that had a pandemic under control indicates a huge danger that the U.S. will try to return to normalcy because the nation is still dealing First virus wave.

Australia, Hong Kong and other parts of Asia that have had months longer to fight the virus have shown difficulty avoiding infection even under the best of circumstances, where people generally follow health authorities ’advice and do not buy conspiracy theories and, most importantly, wear masks.
These circumstances will allow these areas to eventually return to something close to life before Covid, with occasional gunfire and traffic jams, but it is increasingly difficult to imagine the US – where wearing masks has become politicized and government officials in open rebellion against control centers diseases – getting their own epidemic even soon under control.
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