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As Countries Impose China-Style Lockdowns to Stop the Coronavirus from Spreading, Health Experts Worry That They May Be Insufficient

Professor of Financial Economics and Part-time Value Investor, Transfin.
Mar 26, 2020 5:27 AM 2 min read

While the rest of the world goes into quarantine, China, where the coronavirus originated, is slowly emerging from a long period of lockdowns. Factories and shops across the country are resuming operations and workers are going back to their jobs as restrictions are gradually lifted. This includes Hubei province, where COVID-19 emerged, where restrictions began to be lifted today. In Wuhan, the epicentre of the pandemic, restrictions are expected to be eased after two weeks’ time.


Springing Back to Life

As the Chinese economy picks up steam, its auto and aviation industries are slowly coming back to life. The resumption in economic activity in the world’s second largest economy could provide some respite as Europe, the US and India enforce massive lockdowns of their own to stem the spread of the coronavirus.


The period of recovery is likely to be prolonged. Most companies expect operations to become normal only by the end of April. And many are obviously seeing money lost due to the shutdown, and see additional impact in the coming days due to the virus spreading worldwide.


It’s Not Enough

Countries around the world are imposing China-style lockdowns to control the spread of the coronavirus. However, health experts worry that this in itself may be insufficient.


To combat COVID-19, China locked down Wuhan and Hubei province – and other cities – but it also augmented these efforts with other aggressive and systematic quarantine measures. These included widespread testing, turning hundreds of hotels and schools into quarantine centres, building new hospitals. Without these additional measures, relying on a lockdown alone will only buy authorities time – but the virus could remain undefeated.


China's official data, taken at face value, would show that its efforts paid off. Wuhan, which had 50,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus - 61% of China's total - killed 2,524 people in the city. Since late February however, the number of new cases has plummeted. In the past week, only one new case has been reported. Similarly, in other parts of China, the number of new cases has declined and the curve has plateaued, indicating that the government's measures are working.


The US, Britain, Spain, Italy, India and other countries have imposed national or regional lockdowns of their own. But they would also need to build multiple makeshift hospitals and quarantine centres to isolate cases and engage in widespread, door-to-door testing to not only stem the virus's spread but also to root it out. Else, COVID-19 will continue to spread within households and neighbourhoods, and become even more difficult to defeat.


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