Is reopening without cure amid COVID-19 a mistake?

Published: Jun 26, 2020, 13:54 IST | Agencies | Sydney

Surge in infections and deaths soon after countries ease their COVID-19 curbs to resume businesses indicates so; cases are climbing rapidly among young adults in several US states where bars, stores and restaurants have reopened

Britishers flood a beach near England, just days after curbs ended; (right) people arrive for the partial reopening of Eiffel Tower on Thursday, as France eases lockdown. Pics /AFP
Britishers flood a beach near England, just days after curbs ended; (right) people arrive for the partial reopening of Eiffel Tower on Thursday, as France eases lockdown. Pics /AFP

About a dozen different vaccines are in various stages of testing worldwide, including in Britain, China and the US. Though experts believe a vaccine against COVID-19 will be available by the end of this year or early next year, there has been nothing concrete to cure the deadly respiratory disease. In the absence of any treatment, many countries emerged from lockdown hoping to resurrect their economies, but new cases rose to dire new levels in many places, potentially wiping out two months of progress.

'US letting disaster unfold'

US states were re-imposing virus restrictions and Brazilian experts were warning the country was sending people "to the slaughterhouse." More than 78,000 people were diagnosed with COVID-19 in the US and in Brazil alone on Wednesday, with 34,700 in the US, the highest in two months. Hospital administrators and health experts have warned desperately that parts of the US are on the verge of becoming overwhelmed by a resurgence of the COVID-19, lamenting that politicians and a tired-of-being-cooped-up public are letting a disaster unfold.

Cases are climbing rapidly among young adults in a number of states where bars, stores and restaurants have reopened — a disturbing generational shift that not only puts them in greater peril than many realise but poses an even bigger danger to older people who cross their paths. In Oklahoma City, church activities, fitness classes, weddings and funerals seeded infections among people in their 20s, 30s and 40s.

Meanwhile in Australia, health workers began door-to-door testing of over 1 lakh residents in a COVID-19 hot spot in Melbourne that is threatening to undo the nation's success in battling the virus. Victoria state on Thursday reported 33 new cases, the highest daily number in over two months. Australia had managed to stem the contagion, with just over 7,500 cases, including 104 deaths. Israel, which eased the curbs end of May, witnessed a surge in infections. According to the Times of Israel, the Health Ministry on Wednesday night said 532 new cases were confirmed in the past 24 hours. The government has approved the reimposing of a controversial tracking system administered by domestic security agency.

"We may have opened too quickly. The public is not disciplined or wearing masks," Sigal Sadetzky, the head of public health services at Israel's health ministry, said. The World Health Organisation's regional director, Hans Kluge, said cases surged in Europe since countries started lifting lockdown, reported the Guardian. In Turkey, which reopened at the start of June, daily infections were "higher than anticipated". The government still isn't considering re-imposing the lockdown. The health minister has blamed the spike on widespread complacency and failure to comply with physical distancing.

Worldwide, COVID-19 has infected over 9.4 million people, and killed nearly 5 lakh.

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