The United States, Brazil and others lifted the locks early. It turned deadly.

CNN analysis for policy in 18 countries, it turned out that most of the countries now designated by the European Union as under epidemic control had only just begun to ease their regulations after seeing a steady decline in everyday new Covid-19 cases.

In contrast, three of the four countries with the highest number of deaths in the world and the number of cases – the United States, Brazil and India – either never closed properly or started reopening before the number of cases began to fall.

The EU has officially agreed to a series of recommendations from 15 countries it considers safe enough to allow its residents to travel to its territory on Tuesday. To be on the list, countries must confirm the number of boxes: their new cases per 100,000 citizens in the past 14 days must be similar or smaller in the EU and must have a steady or declining trend of new cases in this period compared to the previous 14 days.

The bloc will also consider what measures countries are taking, such as finding contacts and the reliability of country-specific data.

The list includes Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, Uruguay. China, where the virus comes from, is also on the list, but the EU will offer entry to China only by mutual agreement.

Examination of coronavirus responses in 14 countries shows that they have one key thing. Despite economic pressure, the vast majority refused to mitigate social distancing measures while the number of cases continued to increase. And when they raised the conclusions, they did so carefully, gradually.
Scientists say locks are likely prevented hundreds of millions of infections around the world. A modeling study published in the scientific journal Nature last month estimated that in early April, suspension policies saved 285 million people in China from infection, 49 million in Italy and 60 million in the United States.

“I don’t think any human endeavor has ever saved so many lives in such a short period of time. There have been huge personal costs of staying home and canceling events, but the data shows that every day has made a profound difference,” said lead author Solomon Hsiang. Professor and Director of the Global Policy Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley.

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How successful the blockade was depends on several reasons, including whether it was established early enough. The two locks are not similar, so while people in countries like Italy or Spain face fines if they go out of their homes for any reason other than essential reasons, in Japan staying in a house is more of a recommendation than an order.

Australia, Canada, New Zealand quickly limited travel, while in other countries, including Algeria, Georgia and Morocco, children were the first to see the impact of the pandemic as schools closed.

Other measures include home orders, insignificant store closures, quarantine and isolation. In some countries, such as Algeria, Rwanda, Montenegro and China, epidemics have been reported following the lifting of restrictions. This prompted officials to reintroduce some measures at the local level.

In China, the capital, Beijing, was partially halted last month after a new cluster linked to the food market. Montenegro returned bans on mass events last week after a new epidemic of cases was recorded after three weeks without the virus. And in Rwanda, health authorities put several villages in heavy prison last week after new cases surfaced there.

But restrictions launched to combat the disease have also been of great harm to the economy and have exacerbated existing inequalities in education and the workplace, as well as between gender, race and socio-economic background.

As shops and schools closed and almost all travel ceased, hundreds of millions of people around the world suddenly found themselves out of work. The impact on the economy is one of the reasons why some leaders, including US President Donald Trump, are pushing for a quick reopening, even when infectious disease experts have warned too early about lifting the restrictions.

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An earlier version of this story erroneously stated how many lives scientists said were saved because of the blockade. It has been corrected.

Aleesha Khaliq, Dario Klein, Shasta Darlington, Rodrigo Pedroso, Manveena Suri, Paula Newton, Yoko Wakatsuki, Milena Veselinović and Kocha Olarn contributed to the reporting.

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