Not all lockdowns are equal

An aerial view shows minimal traffic in a main thoroughfare in Quezon City, during a two-week lockdown following a surge in Covid-19 cases, in Metro Manila on Aug 9. — Reuters

OVER a year and a half since the surreal news of Wuhan, China, being quarantined due to the coronavirus outbreak, a common response to Covid-19 continues to be the imposition of a “lockdown”, that is, a set of rules and regulations that restrict people’s movements and activities, making them “stay at home”.

The current scientific consensus is that lockdowns are, in the words of Haug and colleagues (2020), “highly effective but causing substantial collateral damages to society, the economy, trade and human rights.” Moreover, they stress that certain policies are more effective than others – for instance, forbidding mass gatherings more than using the police to enforce quarantine rules. Thus, lest we think – and lest we be misled into thinking – that lockdowns are standard practice around the world, it is worth reminding ourselves that not all lockdowns are equal.

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