At the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, many countries enforced lockdowns and social distancing measures to halt the spread of the coronavirus. As case numbers waned and the lockdowns lifted, many people believed that the worst had passed and began meeting others socially again. Unfortunately, these attempts to enjoy what remained of the summer had negative consequences.
All over the world, even in countries that seemed to be handling the cases well, the number of active Covid-19 infections is rising. Canada, which was down to low double digits in its daily new infections at one point, is now back to about 3,000 new infections per day. Even in the EU, which had a strong first response to the pandemic, has seen the number of cases rise to the low hundreds of thousands since the beginning of October.
This new wave is partially due to policy softening under pressure from the economy. The retail, restaurant, and service sectors were heavily impacted by the lockdowns. As such, governments had to pay large amounts of money to keep their country’s economy afloat. Because of this, governments were strongly incentivised to ease the lockdowns to restart the economy. However, this new wave of Covid-19 cases will end up costing more in the long term.
The new wave of cases is also due to people not fully respecting the virulence of the virus and ignoring the necessity of social distancing. There have been multiple instances of people making news for holding large in-person gatherings that are either not recommended or outright illegal.
New Zealand, Singapore, and China are good examples of how proper measures can combat the spread of Covid-19. If countries can enforce a near-total lockdown where the population has very little movement and interpersonal contact for several weeks, or months, then the country can return to normal relatively quickly. For example, daily life has almost returned to pre-pandemic levels in Singapore, and people are allowed to walk the streets again, although the maximum number of people who can be in a group together is still small.
It is now clear that many countries have failed to take thorough enough measures to combat this pandemic, or have utilised short-sighted plans at the expense of long-term case reductions. While short-term plans aimed at helping the economy by lifting lockdowns may seem like a good idea, this will be detrimental in the long term as more people are infected and die, ultimately leaving the economy in a worse state. Countries have to rally now and commit to a long round of lockdowns so that we can return to a post-coronavirus world sooner, rather than later.