Prolonged lockdown is likely to cause greater harm than the virus to the nation’s long-term health and well-being, social fabric, economy and education,” said Simon Thornley, a public health lecturer at the University of Auckland
In January, as the virus was spreading within the Chinese city of Wuhan, Singapore officials began screening travelers arriving in their country and placing anyone who tested positive into quarantine.
Singapore also quarantined some travelers who didn’t have symptoms but had been exposed to the virus.
And Singapore tested its own residents and tracked down people who had come in contact with someone who tested positive.
The result has been only 10 deaths, out of a population of 5.6 million, despite the country’s close ties with China.
Thanks to that response, Singapore had been able to avoid the kind of lockdowns that other countries had put in place.
Restaurants and schools were open, albeit with people keeping their distance from each other.
Large gatherings were rare.
But Singapore doesn’t look that way anymore.
Even there, despite all of the successful efforts at containment, the virus never fully disappeared.
Now a new outbreak is underway.
The number of new cases has surged, as you can see in the chart above. In response, the country announced a lockdown two weeks ago.
Moving toward reopening still makes sense.
But it will need to be done with extreme care.
Even if it is, as in Singapore, people should be prepared for a series of partial reopenings — varying from place to place — that will sometimes be followed by new lockdowns.
All of the best options involve aggressive testing, tracking and quarantining, as well as continued forms of social distancing even after some activities resume.