Millroy: Lockdowns Work

10

When it comes to imposing lockdowns because of the Covid-19 coronavirus, I think most of us accept them as reasonable and necessary moves.

But I realize there are a lot of people who see them, because of the adverse effects they have on them personally and the economy in general, as a case of the cure being worse than the disease.

Considering the battering the United States is taking from the virus and how it is making inroads in certain parts of Canada, I am with the former.

As I write this on Saturday, the U.S. just experienced its highest number of Covid-19 cases ever on a one-day basis, 184,000. It was the third straight day of setting a record.

Chicago has reinstated a stay-at-home advisory, New Mexico has instituted restrictive statewide measures and.Oregon has imposed a partial shutdown, closing gyms and dine-in restaurants and mandating a six-person limit on all social gatherings.

Other states are trying to avoid full-blown lockdowns by enacting almost every other kind of restriction: nighttime curfews, bar closures, stricter mask mandates, 10-person gathering limits. But such moves are not being accepted as easily as they were the first time around, back in the spring when the virus was beginning its ugly march.

Back then the fight was new and people accepted what had to e done.

Now, however, there is pushback, with talk of Covid-19 fatigue.

I can see that. There is no doubt we are all tired of what is happening, even those of us in the Sault area who have not been affected severely.

But just because we are tired of the restrictions we face doesn’t mean we can just give up.
We are in a war, not as deadly as the First and Second World Wars, but deadly nonetheless.
The troops who kept us safe in those wars undoubtedly suffered battle fatigue but they didn’t have the luxury of saying, “I’m tired of this and I’m not going to do it any more.”
Actually, we don’t either.if we want to survive.

We may not have bullets coming at us but we do have a killer in our midst.

I realize closing down our businesses again will be a tremendous hardship for many, owners and employees taking the brunt of it, and will have an awful effect on the economy.

But when you look at what is happening in the U.S. it is hard to see any other choice.
It leads the world in positive cases with 10,877,379 and in deaths with 245,519.

Yet there are some who still claim the whole thing is a hoax. These people, of course, are supporters of Donald Trump, the U.S. president whose inaction allowed the virus to take hold in his country in the first place.

And then we have a conservative group in Alberta that is arguing that , since most deaths and severe cases are among the elderly, it is difficult to justify restrictions imposed by the provincial government in response to surges of the virus.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province’s chief medical officer of health, recently announced private gatherings would be capped at 15 people in Edmonton and Calgary, in response to surges in COVID-19 cases that are putting a strain on the hospital system and leading to the deferral of surgeries and other medical services.

Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms founder John Carpay was quoted by Postmedia, “We’re publicly objecting to new restrictions on Charter freedom to associate.

“It’s a fundamental freedom that I have as a citizen to invite 16 or 20 people over to my house if I so choose, if we choose to associate with each other,” he said.

“Whether it’s six people or 10 people or 20 people, when the government tells you how many friends you’re allowed or not allowed to have over to your house, that is a very obvious and very direct infringement of freedom of association.”

I agree. It is a very obvious and very direct infringement of freedom of association.

But it is necessary. If we are to defeat this virus, it will require giving up some civil liberties.
We in this area have been lucky, but who knows what the future holds. Look at Western Canada. Where it looked like the virus was under control, as mentioned earlier, it is now surging.

Australia went through this but with tough measures, it is now to the point where it has almost eliminated the virus.

A story in The Washington Post a couple of weeks back said at that point no new cases were being reported on the island continent.

It had been a tough go, especially in some parts of the country.

Almost all public life in Melbourne ended, the city undergoing a lockdown for 111 days. It was that long before residents were allowed to leave their homes for any reason.

Leaders from across the ideological spectrum persuaded Australians to take the pandemic seriously early on and prepared them to give up civil liberties they had never lost before, even during two world wars.

“We told the public: ‘This is serious; we want your cooperation,’ ” said Marylouise McLaws, a Sydney-based epidemiologist at the University of New South Wales and a World Health Organization adviser.

And they got it.

So rather than pushing back on restrictions that may be put in place to fight the virus, I would suggest we prepare ourselves to follow Australia’s lead and do whatever is required to defeat it.

Yes, some businesses will die and employees will lose their jobs, but in time both owners and employees will rise again.

Those the virus kills will not have that opportunity.

10 COMMENTS

  1. Key to Asian countries like South Korea’s response was speed, mass testing, strict social distancing measures, consistent messaging, strict quarantine for incoming travellers, and strong penalties for those breaking the rules.

    As of November 16, South Korea has had under 30,000 cases, and under 500 deaths. Taiwan? Just over 600 cases, and seven deaths. It hasn’t had a single domestic case in almost 220 days. Thailand has seen 60 deaths, Vietnam 35.

    To simply dismiss their efforts as totalitarian is arrogance. Many in the region are genuinely perplexed at the complacency and botched jobs of Western governments. They’ve also realised there’s more to it: racism.

    Racism for not listening to the warning signs and advice coming from Asian countries. Racism for thinking Western countries were immune to the “Wuhan virus”. Racism for claiming masks were useless despite Asian scientific research suggesting otherwise. Racism for orientalising all successful Asian countries as obedient and Confucian. Or perhaps it’s also a western supremacy thing.

    In South Korea, people are free to go out, go to restaurants, coffee shops, department stores, the gym and cinema. Offices are still open for business. All this while of course wearing a mask. There’s never been a lockdown.

    When will we in the West get off its high horse and simply admit we got things very wrong instead of criticising or stereotyping Asian countries, perhaps even learning from them?

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  2. Very clearly, East Asia, defined as the nations of China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam, has done better than the West on virus management.

    The virus originated in East Asia, but no East Asian nation makes the top 10 list. The world’s most populous nation, China, is highest, in 49th place, for total number of Covid-19 cases.

    China had 8 new cases on Nov. 16, South Korea 223, Japan 1,459, Taiwan 1 and Vietnam 2 cases.

    The East-West divergence in fatality rates is even starker.

    China (population: 1.4 billion) has suffered 4,637 dead, no Covid deaths on Nov. 16. Japan (population: 126 million) has lost 1,903, 2 deaths yesterday. South Korea (population 51 million) has lost 494, had 1 death yesterday. Taiwan (population: 23.7 million) has lost only 7, none yesterday. Vietnam (population: 95.5 million) has registered 35 deaths, none yesterday.

    Western mortalities are on a vastly different order of magnitude.

    The US (population: 328 million) has lost 252,736. The UK (population: 66 million) has lost 52,147. Italy (population 60 million) has lost 45,733. Spain (population 47 million) has lost 41,253. France (population 67 million) has lost 45,054 and Germany (population 83 million) has lost 12,973.

    In other words, Germany, at the bottom of the Western list, has more than double the deaths of China, at the top of the East Asian list.

    Or, take another metric – deaths per million of population. It shows a similar East-West chasm.

    Spain’s mortalities per million are 580.1, Italy’s 514.7, the UK’s 499.1, France’s 404.2, the US’ 260.4 and Germany’s, 94.8. Meanwhile, Japan’s are 5.4, South Korea’s 5.0, China’s 3.3, Taiwan’s 0.3 and Vietnam’s 0.4.

    China’s data is frequently questioned by those on the political right, but the country’s Covid-19 tolls are broadly in line with East Asian trends, suggesting greater accuracy than doubters might like to believe.

    These data results confound expectations.

    On the macro level, East Asia has vastly bigger cities and much higher population densities.

    On the micro level, it has a culture in which food is shared from communal dishes.

    Moreover, the Western nations cited above are fully developed, prosperous and middle-class – as are Japan, South Korea and Taiwan – but China and Vietnam, despite their rising economic status, are still lagging behind on a GDP per capita basis.

    So what has the East done right and the West wrong?

    The two main vectors of transmission for Covid-19 are airborne droplets and contact. In countering these vectors, East Asia’s social habits trump the West’s.

    Due to East Asia’s air pollution and harsh influenzas, mask wearing – a simple but critical step in halting respiratory disease transmission by containing infected persons’ droplets within masks – is a common habit across the region.

    In South Korea, in February, people were already wearing masks even when they had not been told to do so. Across East Asia, mask wearing is routine during cold and flu season.

    Moreover, there is less direct personal physical contact in East Asian behaviours, with its tradition of bowing, than in the West, with its traditions of cheek-kissing, hugging and hand-shaking.

    In other words, social distancing is built into culture.

    Another aspect of culture is diet, which impacts a key Covid-19 risk factor. East Asians as a whole suffer much lower rates of obesity than Westerners.

    Attitudes toward authority and community consciousness are nebulous concepts, but East Asia may have advantages for reasons that combine politics and culture.

    In communist-led China and Vietnam, the hand of government is heavy, a factor that militates against civil disobedience.

    Beyond politics lies the broader issue of culture. East Asian nations share a Chinese-influenced, Confucian culture of collectivism and group identity.

    “An outbreak is a community problem,” said one epidemiologist. “You can’t address it as individuals.”

    Broadly, these various factors point to the trend of East Asians being more responsive to rules than “individualistic” Westerners.

    In East Asia, populations were more receptive to – and less fragmented in the face of – the measures needed to slow transmission.

    Most of this crisis in Western countries is behavioural.

    Likewise, the prioritization of society over the individual has come into focus over rights to privacy, as a key pandemic countermeasure is contact tracing of the infected.

    This process has been eased by East Asia’s high adoption rates of cellphones.
    Even in democratic Asia, where credit card and cellphone data has been used in tracing, there has been minimal pushback on the issue.

    One of the things to remember is that China, Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan had been through this before, recently, with SARS and MERS.

    That preparation helped.

    Across East Asia leadership has largely been on point in terms of consistency of strategy and following the lead of experts. There has been unified command and control; the messaging has been consistent. There is no back and forth, like there was in the US and elsewhere on masks and restrictions.

    The leadership, in general, has been less politicized and more effective in the East than in the West. Name calling and blaming and deflecting responsibility seemed inappropriate.

    One of the major differences in terms of casualties is whether governments acted promptly. In the US and Canada and the UK, it took nearly six weeks. It was too late.

    Taiwan not only reacted with great speed; it provided an early gold standard for contact tracing, having integrated its health insurance, immigration and customs databases, then mined the resultant big data with AI.

    South Korea provided a global benchmark for fast, efficient and extensive testing regimens by offering free tests for the infected and pioneering drive-thru and walk-thru test sites. That enabled early discovery, isolation and treatment.

    In America, they say ‘We need more testing,’ but testing without tracing and treatment is meaningless, noting the weakness of tracing and quarantining in the US. You learn this in Med School 101.

    Since the 19th century, East Asia has looked up to the West in multiple sectors, from science and technology to governance systems and popular culture.

    Despite the economic ascent of the East, the West has not reciprocated with similar levels of interest. As a result, Western barriers to adopting Eastern models unfortunately exist, combined with disinclination toward critical introspection.

    We should learn from East Asia on how it has so clearly outdone the West in pandemic management.

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  3. Doug mentions Trump not handling the virus the way it should of being handled. Trump, as obnoxious as he can be, did what he could with what info he had, stopping flights from China when his opposition called him racist and told people not to worry and carry on as normal. Do lockdowns work, very big question mark…..Ron

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  4. I think we have little choice than to follow the advice of health officials. It seems in the USA many have decided that the virus is too intrusive in their lifestyles and have adopted an attitude of letting the virus run its course and many actually support the survival of the fittest analogy. I think Dr. tam was a major disappointment in that all she could come up with was wash your hands and wear a mask. We knew that. At least in Ontario, I give credit to Doug Ford for listening to the experts and acting on what they say. He is facing what no other premier ever has. The government of Ontario is not at fault for the rise in cases…its citizenry is by not following simple rules meant to thwart the virus and keep it from spreading.

  5. I tend to disagree with you! “”The pcr test they are using to test people for covid was never intended for this purpose””, and I will quote the creator of this test, his words not mine. The effectiveness is unreliable with many false positives. The survival rate is 98.667 if you are healthy with no comorbidities. Yes there is a new “flu” out there, not disagreeing on that, but it is no more deadlier than the regular flu. It has been blown way out of proportion, with politicians loving the power of control. The Spanish flu, sick people were quarantined, not the healthy. Doctors are getting paid thousands of dollars, to include covid as cause of death. And whatever happened to the regular flu, it seems to have magically disappeared. The changing of rules daily are to keep us confused and uncertain ie wearing masks wont help to everybody has to wear a mask. Not to mention the fact that it is a very smart virus…. dont shop at that little boutique but go to Walmart it’s ok there, lives on cardboard but timmy cups are safe, don’t go out after 8 that’s when the virus comes out, wear masks in that room for meetings but later when that same room becomes your lunchroom it’s ok the virus knows you’re eating so it wont getcha, and don’t forget not to be that 11th person in the room you are in trouble because the virus can count too!!!!

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  6. Lockdowns DON’t work.
    You’re assuming you will have an economy after lockdowns.
    The US unlike any other country. Bad analogy
    When lockdowns are lifted the numbers go back up and you are worst of than before

    The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and expecting a different result!!

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