From bubonic plague to 2021, why lockdown look set to stay


Photographer: Hector Retamal / AFP / Getty Images

A year after the lockout in the Chinese city of Wuhan shocked the world, the strategy has become a permanent tool to eradicate coronovirus almost everywhere.

When the first large-scale lockdown in modern times was implemented at the start of the Kovid-19 pandemic on January 23 in China, it was considered unproven and Unimaginable, especially by democratic governments, which emphasize the implications of human rights violations limiting the freedom of citizens on such a large scale.

Nevertheless, around 12 months later, the UK is in the midst of its third nationwide As a lockdown it fights a mutated strain of coronavirus. In Australia, a recent discovery of a case in Brisbane indicated three days Lockdown. And China, which faces its biggest outbreak since the onset of the epidemic with more than 500 cases, closed three cities around Beijing this month.

“Before COVID-19 there was a strong global health discourse that argued against lockdown and equal mass quarantine. But there is one area of ​​thinking that the current epidemic has reversed, ”said Nicholas Thomas, an associate professor in health security at the City University of Hong Kong.

“As far as possible, lockdowns are going to be part of the necessary toolkit for governments to address existing as well as future outbreaks.”

Measures of war

The speed with which China laid off millions of people, was the first time such a scale was measured in modern times.

Until last year, severe lockdowns were synonymous with waves of bubonic plague that swept Europe from the 14th century. Even during the Spanish flu of the early 20th century, no lockdown was imposed centrally. However, China has imposed three major lockdowns in recent history: one during the outbreak of the bubonic plague in its northeast in 1901, and two smaller ones following the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, and one in 2014 due to the outbreak of a bubonic plague in Gansu province.

Foreign countries that had been locked up in Wuhan found themselves a few months later as the virus spread uncontrollably.

After the infectious disease reaches a certain number of people, the lockdown cannot be avoided because no other remedy can spread, said Jiang Qingyu, a professor of epidemiology at Fudan University in Shanghai.

While it is clear that there remains a large gap between what the Chinese government can do to its citizens during lockdown compared to democratic countries. Local authorities also ensured compliance by actions such as completely sealing residential compounds, sometimes to declare what the government routinely called “wartime” measures in response to the relatively small number of infections. . In some cases, people are not allowed to leave to receive food, arrangements are made for them instead of delivery.

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A. According to the authors Comparing a study by Bloomberg Economics on how democratic countries have dealt with more authoritarianism to deal with the epidemic, “an intense and drastic lockdown is a knee-like reaction that is officially more so than in democratic systems.” Comes naturally. “

In China’s latest lockdown in Shijiazhuang, the capital of Hebei Province, stricter measures are reminded of the Wuhan lockdown, which ended on 8 April after the transition to zero. Residents have to stay indoors for seven days, 180 miles (290 kilometers) southwest of the northeast city, Beijing, as the city conducts a second round of mass testing for the entire population of 11 million as cases in the area range from 500. Are more. Flights and trains are in and out of the city, as well as almost all public transport.

Conversely, democratic countries such as the UK in their versions of lockdowns generally allow people to leave home to buy essentials such as food and medicine, walking their dogs or exercising. Schools remain open in France’s autumn lockdown, while in this month’s two-week lockdown, Israel is allowing people to gather on the street till 10, with exemption for religious activities.

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But there are also examples of democratic governments implementing extreme rules. A state government in Australia, where officials have reacted fiercely to the flare-up, Outdoor exercise and dog walking were also banned during a brief lockout in November.

Winter revival

Chinese officials argue that the country’s boom from the crisis proves that their approach works. And a winter resurgence of the virus in countries such as South Korea, Japan and Sweden, which originally saw success with a minimal-disintegration approach that avoided lockdowns, suppresses the logic of strict measures, particularly tired. Advises civilians to stay at home.

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“Given China’s huge numbers and high density, we have proved it [these measures] Are very effective, ”the country’s National Health Commission spokesman, Mi Feng, told Bloomberg News.

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