When Wuhan and the majority of the Hubei Province in China were put under lockdown in January, critics were concerned that the unprecedented and extreme social restrictions might not be an effective way to halt the spread of COVID-19. Thankfully, the harsh measures meant that the country reported no new cases of domestically transmitted COVID-19 last week for the first time since the outbreak began. In light of the success of the lockdown, other affected countries are following suit as cases continue to soar.
It's now thought around 20 percent of the global population, or one in five people, are under lockdown, reports The Guardian. Germany and the UK have banned gatherings of more than two people, New Zealand has enforced a four-week lockdown, Hong Kong has halted entry to the country to all non-citizens, and Italy, which has had the most cases of any country outside China, has been on lockdown for two weeks.
At the time of writing, the current global death toll from the devastating SARS-CoV-2 pandemic stands at 17,150, according to Worldometers, with current and confirmed cases topping 390,000. As more relaxed approaches seen in affected countries appear to be failing, more and more countries are opting for the stricter lockdown measures first carried out in Wuhan and the Hubei Province.
Across 35 of the worst-affected countries, it’s estimated that around 900 million people were under quarantine on Saturday, March 21, 600,000 million of which did so under obligatory government lockdown orders punishable by law enforcement, according to an AFP tally. Since then, numbers are estimated to have topped 1.7 billion after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi imposed a lockdown on 75 of India’s districts including New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, and Kolkata, where restrictions will remain in place until at least March 31.
The UK government announced a three-week lockdown yesterday after citizens continued to meet in groups without keeping to the advised 2-meter distance. The sanctions affecting around 66 million citizens has been put in place until at least April 13.
In the United States, New York City has gone into lockdown after its confirmed cases reached 15,000 – nearly half of the country's total number of cases, accounting for 5 percent of global COVID-19 cases. It's thought around 40 percent of US citizens are now under restrictions.
As the worst-hit region in Europe, Italy has been on lockdown since March 9 when Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte imposed a national quarantine. The quarantine restricted the movement of Italian residents only allowing people to leave their homes for essential work, to collect food and medicine and to walk pets or face a fine. In response to those ignoring the rules, or as one Italian mayor put it, those acting like "Will Smith in I Am Legend", Conte imposed even stricter rules yesterday. At the same time, hopeful news yesterday revealed that after experiencing the highest number of deaths in a day on Saturday at 793, confirmed cases have declined in Italy for the second day running.
After the months of lockdown, China has announced it will lift the restrictions on Wuhan and the Hubei Province on April 8. The provincial government has already allowed some tourist attractions to reopen, has urged the restoration of normal medical services, and is preparing for public transport services to resume. Whether this means the tide has turned on the pandemic is yet to be seen, but the more we know, the more prepared we can be to get it under control.
In the meantime, people have to stay home and physically distance themselves. If anyone still doesn't understand why, just show them this gif.