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Travel restrictions are the most effective tool against the spread of infection. China and Australia have both succeeded in controlling covid-19 by enforcing brief but strong travel restrictions. You can see how effective this is from the “Daily New Cases” graphs at the links below; China has suppressed major infection waves for fourteen months, Australia for ten months:
China Daily New Cases
Australia Daily New Cases
I saw this for myself watching the international tennis from Melbourne earlier this year. In the middle of a match an announcement was made over the PA – stop the match, the public must clear the court and go home – immediate lockdown of Melbourne. Nine tests in Melbourne had returned positive – not nine hospital admissions or nine deaths; just nine positive tests.
Draconian, you may say, but just five days later, Melbourne reopened again. Trace and test had been performed and around fifty people quarantined; beyond those fifty there were no further positive results. Such response is practical when there are only nine cases to follow up. The UK, with an estimated 10,000 new infections daily wouldn’t stand a chance unless we got the numbers at least two orders of magnitude lower.
The endcoronavirus.org site has been telling this for some time:
Green Zones –
In a year of suffering and losses, many countries have made their own experiments in how to deal with COVID-19.
The results of these experiments are known:
- Having COVID-19 under control reduces suffering and losses.
- No country has COVID-19 under control without strong travel restrictions.
- No country has COVID-19 under control by trying to keep the numbers at a non-zero threshold.
- It is easier to get back to zero if you react fast to new outbreaks.
- It is not too late to try to get COVID-19 under control and it doesn’t take long.
Let’s learn from the countries that succeeded. Go for zero – with a green-zone strategy.
Note that my argument is about epidemic control, not politics. Lockdowns can be implemented in either elitist or socially supportive ways, and in either brutal or humane ways.
But whichever way lockdowns are implemented, shorter is better. Businesses and workers can withstand a week of lockdown. The UK’s three month lockdowns drive businesses to bankruptcy and workers to destitution.