A study that analyzes the strategies that followed nine Asian and European countries relaxing confinement measures after the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic highlights the importance of establishing robust mechanisms to control the level of infections and maintain certain measures of social distance.
The scientific journal The Lancet publishes this Thursday the job, which shells five key measures to reopen a company after having imposed total or partial confinements.
Public health expert Helena Legido-Quigley, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, led a study that draws on the experience of five countries and regions in Asia (Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea) and four from Europe (Germany, Norway, Spain and the United Kingdom).
The authors identify, firstly, the need to design “a process of transparent decision making “, that identifies the levels or phases on which the de-escalation will be developed and detail the criteria that will allow to advance towards a new stage.
They also consider, secondly, that governments should establish reliable systems to determine the spread of the virus and they warn that values such as the transmission ratio (R) are only useful if you have high-quality data in real time.
“For example, a small localized focus can raise the R-value of a country, but does not require a national confinement to be controlled,” the authors note in a statement.
As a third point, they warn that measures to reduce transmission, such as use of masks and social distance are still necessary for a time after lifting a lockdown.
They give as an example the “social bubbles” which New Zealand used, a “successful” measure that allows “social interaction while reducing transmission.”
Detect and isolate
“For control measures to work, governments must educate and interact with its citizens, build trust and select appropriate measures that are willing to comply, “say the experts, as a fourth point.
And, fifth, for de-escalation plans to meet their objectives, each country must also design effective mechanisms to detect and isolate cases.
“Spain and the UK have had problems to achieve this “, say the authors, who propose as South Korea’s “effective model”.
Finally, they argue that their analysis supports the effects of a “COVID zero” strategy, like the one carried out by New Zealand, with the aim of completely eliminating community transmission.
Learn from successes and failures
“Our review of international experiences identifies lessons that governments can learn from the successes and failures of others,” says Legido-Quigley.
“We are not advising that countries replicate exactly the same measures as others, but still It is not too late for governments to consider novel solutions that other countries have developed and apply them in their own contexts, “he adds.
Martin McKee, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, stresses that “as some countries around the world begin to see cases resurface and restrictions tighten, it is imperative that learn the lessons that have been left for the future. “
“There are no simple solutions, But there are great benefits to be gained by learning from the experience of others, “says McKee.