In an interview with Business Insider, an epidemiologist attached to Hong Kong University warned that sporadic governmental lockdowns may become a fact of life for months to come until researchers come up with a bullet-proof COVID-19 vaccine.
As multiple states in the United States go into lockdown status by order of their respective governors in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, Dr. Ben Cowling explained that more lockdowns should be expected if and when future virus outbreaks flare up.
"A boomerang effect could occur, Cowling said, as residents emerge from their homes, go to work, take their children to school, and go shopping," Business Insider reports. "There are two ways the virus could take hold again. First, a small number of Chinese residents who were under lockdown might still have the virus when restrictions lift but not know they're sick. Those people could then spread it, starting a new wave of infection. Second, international travelers could bring the virus back into the country."
"They can shut down for a month, but then when they reopen, they're still going to have an epidemic starting again, and I don't see the long-term plan for those locations. Are they going to just cycle? Just down one month in every three months?"Cowling stated, with the report noting "Epidemiologists project that between 40-70% of the population will get the coronavirus by the time the pandemic subsides."
Backing up Cowling's prediction, Adam Kucharski, an epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine stated, "I think this idea … that if you close schools and shut restaurants for a couple of weeks, you solve the problem and get back to normal life — that's not what's going to happen," before adding, "The main message that isn't getting across to a lot of people is just how long we might be in this for."
According to researchers, "Once residents emerge from lockdown and start to be in close contact once again, the virus will be able to more easily circulate among people who haven't contracted it yet — which could be between 30-60% of the population. Some case studies suggest people can get the virus more than once."
Case in point, Taiwan's health minister, Chen Shih-chung announced on Monday, "We held firm to block the first wave of infection, but a new wave is coming, so everyone should cooperate with disease prevention efforts."
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