Hello everyone! For the debate tomorrow, I have written some summaries of a few different countries’ approaches to coronavirus lockdowns, so you can see how they have fared.
The small Southeast Asian island nation was originally faring well during the crisis, but now has more cases than South Korea, a country almost ten times its size. At the beginning of the crisis, Singapore quickly restricted the travel of individuals from hard hit places like China and South Korea, created strict quarantine procedures for potentially infected individuals, and used strong epidemiological surveillance to contain the virus. However, Singapore’s response did not adequately account for the conditions of its migrant workers. 300,000 of these workers live in huge, densely-populated dormitory complexes that have allowed for rampant virus spreading. Consequently, 78% of Singapore’s cases are linked to these dormitories on the city’s outskirts. Because cases have skyrocketed this month, Singapore has been in a partial lockdown since April 7, with only essential businesses allowed to remain open.
South Korea used a strategy not unlike Singapore’s initial plan to successfully fend off the coronavirus. Its government was one of the first to recommend social distancing and swiftly implemented mass testing. Now, it is reporting per-day new case numbers in the single digits. It managed to accomplish this containment without ever implementing a lockdown; its citizens are even allowed to eat at restaurants (though with seating restrictions). Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post newspaper attributes South Korea’s success to its “model citizens.” South Koreans listened to their government’s social distancing guidelines and started wearing masks much more quickly than their Western peers.
In many European countries, stricter measures have been adopted than those in South Korea. In France, for instance, it’s illegal to go outside for non-essential purposes, and thousands of people have been fined for violating the lockdown. Unfortunately, the country has not fared well during the coronavirus crisis, with 338 deaths per million people (for comparison, the US is at 165). Like other Western nations, France underestimated the coronavirus crisis at the beginning of the outbreak, a fact Emmanuel Macron has basically acknowledged. On March 6, for instance, President Macron tried to demonstrate that life could continue on as normal by going to the theatre. France also held the world’s largest gathering of people dressed as Smurfs on March 7. On March 9, the mayor of the Smurf town defended the gathering by saying, “We must not stop living. It was the chance to say that we are alive.” For context, March 9 was the day Italy entered national lockdown. France entered lockdown on March 17 and is set to exit it sometime in the near future.
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