Over a third of the world's population is now in "lockdown" in a bid to battle the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
At least 2.6 billion people are now subject to some form of movement restriction after India, the world’s second-most populous country after China, joined the long list of countries imposing shutdown measures this week, according to AFP.
India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, ordered all 1.3 billion people in the country to remain at their homes for at least three weeks starting Wednesday, comparing the war against coronavirus to the Mahabharata War, a war described in the ancient epic poem Mahābhārata.
We’re currently in the middle of the biggest restriction of free movements in human history. The list of countries currently on lockdown includes the UK, Italy, Denmark, Ireland, Spain, Germany, Portugal, Czech Republic, Poland, France, Belgium, Norway, Greece, Slovenia, Israel, Lebanon, Kuwait, Jordan, India, Indonesia, China, El Salvador, Colombia, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.
All of these countries have taken different measures with varying levels of severity, although all have banned mass gatherers and imposed some kind of limits on movement.
In the UK, for example, the government has ordered the closure of all non-essential businesses and asked citizens to only leave their house if it's “absolutely necessary”, which includes going to the grocery store, the pharmacy, or seeking medical treatment. However, you are allowed to leave your house for exercise and public transport is still running. In France, people have to sign a permission form each time they want to leave their property.
Meanwhile, in the US, President Trump is yet to announce any nationwide quarantine measures, despite skyrocketing numbers of COVID-19 across the country. A poll taken on March 20 to 22, showed that 74 percent of American voters would support a national quarantine, a measure to limit movement except for essential travel.
Just this week, Chinese authorities announced they are lifting the lockdown measures in place for Hubei province, and partially lifting those around Wuhan, the city where the outbreak is believed to have originated.
“The easing of lockdown restrictions in Hubei and soon in Wuhan offer hope for much of the rest of the world that an end to the stringent control measures can be in sight. Along with a few other countries that have been at the forefront of tackling the disease early, China has provided valuable lessons about how the outbreak can be controlled,” commented Professor Andrew Tatem, a professor of Geography and Environmental Science at the University of Southampton.
“The lessons we can next learn from China are about which restrictions can safely be lifted, when, where, for whom, and what still needs to stay in place.”