The word “lockdown” has become one of the most familiar terms during the new coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak. Lockdown is an emergency ruling that prohibits people from departing and entering an area aimed at preventing the spread of the disease.
Several countries with the highest death rates of Covid-19 have imposed lockdown. The following is an analysis of what is happening to these countries during the lockdowns and ensuing isolation.
On January 23, China decided to isolate the city of Wuhan in Hubei Province because it was the epicenter of the outbreak. Public transport was closed and residents could not leave the region. Even China’s President Xi Jinping visited Hubei earlier this month.
Millions of people were instructed to stay at home unless they had to buy food or seek medical treatment. The local authority also closed offices, schools, and factories. Other cities in Hubei Province also followed suit.
China’s massive lockdown also relied on mass surveillance technology to restrict people’s movement. A Sichuan province-based restaurant owner, who had traveled to Hubei, said the police arrived at his house and told him to quarantine himself, as BBC reported.
China’s lockdown is not without controversy. In one case, Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported that a teen with cerebral palsy died when his dad and brother were in a quarantine center.
If there are no new cases in the next 14 days, China’s lockdown status will be lifted. While the number of coronavirus cases has supposedly been on the decline in China, several countries in Europe have seen a major surge in their Covid-19 death toll.
The COVID-19-related death toll in Italy has surpassed that in China. As of March 20, a shocking 3,405 people had died in Italy due to the new Coronavirus infection, with more than 41,000 positive cases.
After the lockdown was imposed on March 8, fewer people were seen in public places in Italy. If they have to leave home, Italians are required to show a certification informing local authorities about why they have to go out. Security officials have been deployed at supermarkets in the Tuscany region to make sure that people buy stuff based on minimum requirements.
Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said all bars, restaurants, schools, beauty parlors, and non-essential office divisions should be temporarily shut down. Food delivery is still allowed.
The prime minister added that at least 16 million in Lombardy and 14 other provinces are required to get a special permit to travel in a quarantine regulation. The country’s top-tier soccer competition Serie A and other sport events have also been postponed until April 3 due to the pandemic.
France locked down its territory on March 14 after the number of coronavirus cases in the country hit 5,000. The country’s Prime Minister Edouard Philippe ordered the closure of cafes, restaurants, and cinemas as well as nightclubs and tourist spots such as the Eiffel Tower.
“I have decided to close all non-essential locations, notably cafés, restaurants, cinemas, nightclubs and shops. We must absolutely limit our movements,” Philippe said.
Grocery stores, drugstores, and petrol stations will remain open during the lockdown, the prime minister added. France has slapped a more robust measure by deploying 100,000 police officers to ensure the enforcement of lockdown procedures. The outbreak has forced the government to postpone local elections supposed to be held on Sunday, March 22.
As of March 21, France has recorded 450 deaths and 12,612 Covid-19 positive cases. The country’s public health agency stated that the government could extend the two-week confinement to contain the pandemic.
Spain also isolated its area on the same day as France. The order only allows Spaniards to leave homes to buy medicine, get medical treatment, purchase food, and other emergency reasons.
As of March 17, most of Spain’s Covid-19 positive cases were in the capital of Madrid, fully 43 percent. The wife of Spain’s Prime Minister hass also tested positive for the New Coronavirus.
Spain came third below Italy as one of the countries with the highest death rates due to coronavirus. As of March 21, the death toll has reached 1,326.
All hotels and accommodation have been closed temporarily. However, Ayre Grand Hotel in Madrid turned into an emergency hospital for Covid-19 patients by providing 60,000 beds and equipping its rooms with medical devices.
On March 18, Malaysia implemented lockdown measures which will end in two weeks. The government banned all mass gatherings, including religious, sports, and political activities.
The lockdown decision triggered panic buying. Ahead of the confinement, Malaysians stormed grocery stores to buy their daily needs.
As of March 21, Malaysia has recorded four deaths and 1,183 Covid-19 cases. Kuala Lumpur has also deployed troops to enforce its lockdown regulation.
Other Nations Which Have Also Imposed a Lockdown
Ireland, Poland, Belgium, Denmark, New Zealand, and Argentina are among other countries that have also ordered their citizens to quarantine themselves. One of the world’s busiest and biggest cities — New York — also started a lockdown following the surge in the number of Covid-19 cases.
Dubbed as “the city that never sleeps”, Covid-19 has turned New York into a ghost town. Bars, restaurants, stores have been closed. New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer predicted that restaurant sales would drastically drop by 80 percent, and retail and property sales would plunge by 20 percent, as BBC reported.
Countries That Oped Not to Impose a Lockdown
Despite not imposing a nationwide lockdown, South Korea’s effort to lower the number of Covid-19 infections has drawn worldwide appreciation. South Korea is among the countries with with the highest numbers of coronavirus cases. As of March 21, there have been 102 deaths and 8,799 recorded cases.
South Korea’s success story cannot be separated from its government’s ability to set up numerous laboratories with test kits, which are easily spotted everywhere, so people can have their health checked.
Indeed, South Korea has managed to test 10,000 people a day. Also, the government has enabled a GPS-based app to track people under quarantine and set off an alarm if they try to go outdoors, as Aljazeera reported.